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Profile of the Day: James Naismith

On this day in 1892, physical education teacher and inventor James Naismith published the rules of basketball for the first time. The sport is now played in over 200 countries around the world.

James Naismith with the “first team” / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Naismith was born on November 6, 1861 in what is today Mississippi Mills, Ontario, Canada. An athlete himself, Naismith played football, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, and gymnastics while at McGill University in Montreal. He became the first director of athletics at McGill, before leaving to become a physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

While at the Springfield YMCA, Naismith was tasked to create an indoor game that would provide an “athletic distraction” for students during the cold New England winters. He came up with a simple game consisting of a soft soccer ball, two peach baskets, and a few basic rules. The players were to score goals by throwing the ball into a basket attached to a wall. He named the new sport “Basket Ball” and played the very first game at the school’s gymnasium in December 1891. On January 15, 1892, Naismith announced the new game and 13 basic rules in an article for the Springfield College school newspaper. Over the years, the sport continued to grow in popularity and became an official Olympic sport in 1936. Today it is now one of the most popular sports around the world.

Explore James Naismith’s family tree on Geni and shared your connection to the inventor of basketball.

View James Naismith’s Geni Profile

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