Basketball is an extremely popular all around the world. The object is to put a ball through a hoop, or basket, and thus score more points than the opposing team. Teams comprise of ten players, with a maximum of five on court at any one time. Substitutions are unlimited during the course of the game. Although basketball can be played outdoors, it was invented to serve as an exciting indoor exercise for the winter months in a northern climate. It quickly became a spectator sport, however, and now attracts large audiences to gymnasiums and arenas, especially in the United States, South America, and Europe.
The sport is played on the amateur level by schools, colleges, other groups, and, since 1936 by national teams in the Olympic Games. It also is played by professional athletes, notably in the United States and Europe.
The foremost American championships contended for are those of the National Basketball Association (NBA) for professionals, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for colleges. Britain has National Associations for each country and the English Basketball Association (EBBA) runs amateur national competitions, the National Basketball League (NBL) is run by Basketball League Ltd for professionals. International competion is organised by the Federation of International Basketball (FIBA).
The Early Days..
It all started with two peach baskets in a YMCA in Massachusetts. In 1891 James A Naismith (1861-1939), a leader of the Springfield YMCA, was thinking about ways of providing exercise for the young men in his care. As a physical education instructor he taught gymnastics, however he was looking for something new. He had the idea of nailing peach baskets onto the balconies as goals, at either end of the gymnasium and throwing a soccer ball into it from below. So a National and International game was born. In 1892 he published the first booklet containing the basic rules, almost unchanged today (although expanded upon considerably!). These rules were adopted by the YMCA and the Amateur Athletic Union. Word spread quickly amongst YMCA's in the Eastern United States about this new game. It took off so rapidly that the first intercollegiate game was played in 1897, and the first professional league in the following year. The Eastern Intercollegiate League was formed shortly afterwards, in 1902. Women also took up the game before 1900. The growing popularity of basketball resulted in improvements in equipment and skills. The metal hoop was introduced in 1893, and backboards in 1895. The soccer ball was replaced by the first basketball. As playing skills also became more sophisticated, the game attracted more and more spectators. Until the late 1930s, scores were low, sometimes in single digits. After each score, opposing centers (one of the five positions, the others being two guards and two forwards) lined up in the middle of the court and jumped for the ball. Then the team that got the ball would pass or dribble until a player was about 3 m (10 ft) from the basket before trying a shot. The slow pace did not inhibit the growth of the game, however. By the 1920s, basketball was being played all over the United States, and tournaments were being conducted in high school and college gymnasiums. Most states held high school championships for boys.