Everyone today knows there is a sport called basketball. The sport of dribbling, accelerating and dunking the ball in the opposition’s net is familiar to one and all.
But little is known about basketball and how it originated. Who invented basketball, and how did it become the global phenomenon it is today?
What is basketball?
Basketball is a team sport played between two teams. While it is mostly a 5v5, variations of it see more or less players per team at times. It is played on a court which is rectangular in shape. Points are scored by putting the ball in the opposition’s basket. The objective is to score more points than the opposition.
A basket is worth two points, and is called a two-pointer. If a basket is scored from outside the semicircle (which is called the three-point line), it is worth three points.
There are also baskets which are worth a single points, which are free throws. These are earned after fouls, and at this point, timed play is paused. Then the player who was fouled gets given one, two or three free throws, depending on the situation. Each basket scored is worth one point in this scenario.
Players get to the opposition’s basket by continuously moving while bouncing the ball, and this act is called dribbling. Dribbling is complemented by passing, and this is how basketball players move. To shoot, players may throw the ball, and the shots used the most are the layup, the dunk and the rebound shot.
When was basketball invented and by whom?
Basketball is a team sport, but it stemmed from the head of one man. It was created by Dr. James Naismith in 1891. Naismith was a PE instructor in Massachusetts.
His boss asked him to create a sports game that could help the athletes of his school stay fit during the winter. Accordingly, he came up with basketball, and the sporting world would never be the same again.
Naismith used peach baskets and a ball that resembled the one used in soccer. He came up with 13 major rules for the game, and taught them to the athletes.
According to his rulebook, the objective of the game was to throw the ball into the fruit baskets he nailed to the railing of the institute’s gym balcony. Every time somebody netted a point, the game was paused so a janitor could climb up, retrieve it and give it back to the athletes. At the end of the game, the bottoms of the baskets were removed.
The game proved such a hit with the athletes, and word spread about it. It became so popular in just a year. The first public basketball match was played on March 11, 1982.
Over the years, with changes to rules and modifications to playing locations and conditions, it became the fast, adrenaline-filling game it is today.
What makes basketball so popular?
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world today, given its fast and explosive nature. It also boasts some of the most popular athletes in the world, and millions watch the sport.
Basketball is popular due to improved international broadcasting, which pushes it beyond America and the like. It is broadcasted all over the world. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, there are many marketable athletes who are or were basketballers.
From Michael Jordan to LeBron James, there are many players who are household names, and even the most casual of fans have at least heard of these illustrious names. Furthermore, the brand appeal of the sport is incredible, and accessories like sneakers, clothing and the like are closely looked at by viewers.
However, perhaps what makes it click more than many sports is the nature of it. It manages to hit the sweet spot in many areas for fans to tune into. For example, a game like cricket is a wee bit too slow.
Conversely, a sport like rugby is too vicious. In that regard, basketball manages to cater to fans who want speed, excitement and technique.
Its gameplay is quick and exciting, the objective guarantees loads of heart-in-mouth moments, and playing field and glitz and glamour of it can be matched by little else.
Types of basketball
Basketball is pretty standardised. However, as is the case with any sport, there are multiple variations and types of basketball.
Predominantly, basketball is divided into three types based on the rules followed. These are broadly classified as FIBA rules basketball, NBA basketball and NCAA basketball. These are the main classifications. You can think of them as the three formats of cricket, namely Test, One Day International and Twenty20 cricket.
Other types of basketball revolve around alterations made to one or more aspects of the game. There are too many types and variations to name here. As such, five popular ones will be detailed out.:
1) Deaf basketball – As the name suggests, it is played by deaf athletes. Here, sign language is used to communicate whistle blows for fouls and the like.
2) Water basketball – This is a form of basketball played in water. The water “court” in question is mostly a swimming pool, although it could be other water bodies as well.
3) Wheelchair basketball – This is basketball played by the differently-abled people. Their lack of bodily ability need not prevent them from shooting ’em hoops.
4) Streetball – Kind of similar to street football, this is basketball played casually and on outdoor courts. It is proper basketball, but with a much more relaxed set of rules.
5) Fantasy basketball – A branch of fantasy sports, this is basketball where players don’t have to touch a ball. Here, players assume the role of managers for their fantasy teams, and compete with other players all over the world every week by scoring points with their drafted teams.