Did you know basketball was invented by a Canadian?
James Naismith was born in the mill town of Almonte, Ontario in 1861. After attending McGill in Montreal he moved to the U.S. where he was credited with dreaming up the game of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891. Wikipedia’s biographic entry describes that invention thusly:
At Springfield YMCA, Naismith struggled with a rowdy class which was confined to indoor games throughout the harsh New England winter and thus was perpetually short-tempered. Under orders from Dr. Luther Gulick, head of Springfield YMCA Physical Education, Naismith was given 14 days to create an indoor game that would provide an “athletic distraction”: Gulick demanded that it would not take up much room, could help its track athletes to keep in shape and explicitly emphasized to “make it fair for all players and not too rough.”
In his attempt to think up a new game, Naismith was guided by three main thoughts. Firstly, he analyzed the most popular games of those times (rugby, lacrosse, soccer, football, hockey and baseball); Naismith noticed the hazards of a ball and concluded that the big soft soccer ball was safest. Secondly, he saw that most physical contact occurred while running with the ball, dribbling or hitting it, so he decided that passing was the only legal option. Finally, Naismith further reduced body contact by making the goal unguardable, namely placing it high above the player’s heads. To score goals, he forced the players to throw a soft lobbing shot that had proven effective in his old favorite game duck on a rock. Naismith christened this new game “Basket Ball” and put his thoughts together in 13 basic rules.
On Saturday, his hometown of Almonte dedicated a statue by Kansas sculptor Elden Tefft in honor of Naismith and his many contributions to sport.
This Ottawa Citizen article describes the event with two photos of what looks like a charming statue.
Well done, Mr. Naismith and good job, Almonte!