Search engine giant Google celebrated Canadian-American physical educator, professor, doctor, and coach Dr. James Naismith on Friday with a vibrant doodle. Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891.
Born on November 6, 1861, near the town of Almonte in Ontario, Canada, Naismith earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from McGill University, and in 1890 took a job as an instructor at the YMCA International Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Here, he was tasked to develop an indoor game that could occupy students during the unforgiving New England winters. With two peach baskets, a soccer ball, and just ten rules, the game of “basket ball” was born.
Introduced to Naismith’s class on December 21, 1891, the game initially featured teams of nine players and combined elements of outdoor sports such as American football, soccer, and field hockey. Despite initial skepticism, the sport exploded in popularity over the following years, and in 1936, basketball made its Olympic debut in Berlin, Germany. None other than the sport’s founder—James Naismith—threw the ball for the tip-off to commence the first game.
On this day of the following year, Naismith announced the new game and its original rules in the pages of “The Triangle,” a Springfield College school newspaper. From its humble beginnings in a school gymnasium, the sport has grown into an international colossus played in over 200 countries today.
Naismith envisioned basketball as a way for all students to better themselves physically and mentally. The sport was introduced in a time when schools were segregated, but Naismith saw everyone as someone with potential for the game. In his lifetime, he took steps to help basketball reach more young people, and it has since evolved into a global phenomenon that crosses racial and gender barriers.
In 1959, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame was incorporated in Springfield, Massachusetts, and this mecca of basketball history carries on Naismith’s legacy to this day.