While NBA (Nathional Basketball Association) finals are in process I thought I'd point out that Basketball was invented in 1891 in Springfield, Mass. by a physical education instructor, James Naismith. He developed the indoor game while he was an instructor in Springfield College, at that time the college was also the training school for the Y.M.C.A.
Women's basketball started in 1892 at Smith College.
They used a soccer ball and a peach basket nailed to a ten foot pole and the first official game was played on Jan. 20, 1892. As you can well imagine the sport took off quickly. By the end of the century the YMCA started to discourage the game saying it distracted from their mission but other colleges, sports club, etc. picked up the sport.
Below in an excerpt from The cyclopedia for education Vol. 1 page 330 ©1919 by Paul Monroe
BASKETBALL. — The history of the origin and development of basketball is radically different from that of other games. Most of our popular games, like basketball, football, and cricket, were developed gradually over periods of scores or hundreds of years. Not so with basketball, which was invented in 1891 and in less than three years had become the national indoor game of America. The circumstances attending the invention of this game explain to some extent its remarkable success. Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick told his class in philosophy of physical training at the Springfield Y.M.C.A. Training School that a real need existed for an indoor game having the following characteristics: (1) Vigorous enough to develop general organic vigor. (2) Suitable for gymnasiums of different size and proportions. (3) One that should not necessitate elaborate and expensive equipment for the game or players. (4) Simple enough to be played by individuals not endowed with unusual size, strength, and skill. (5) It should be interesting. Dr. Gulick requested his students to submit games embodying these characteristics. Mr. (now Dr.) James Naismith submitted the game of basketball. The game was tried by the students in the Training School with very satisfactory results.
The main features of basketball as first worked out by Mr. Naismith have been retained, although many changes and additions in minor details have been introduced from time to time. In the beginning the game was played with 9 on a side; a little later the number was reduced to 7, and later to 5. The growth of interest in basketball has been phenomenal. For two or three years, the game was played almost exclusively in the gymnasiums of the Young Men's Christian Association; it was then taken up by the colleges, schools, and athletic clubs, and before 1900 was played in nearly every gymnasium in the country.
There are many good Indoor games in use in connection with the physical activities of our schools and colleges, but basketball is played more than all other indoor games together, and is by far the most popular. This great popularity is justified because basketball combines many important educational advantages. As an exercise it is one of the most valuable for developing organic vigor of heart and lungs, agility, bodily control, and endurance; as a game it affords admirable training in self-control, judgment, cooperation, obedience, and loyalty; as a means of recreation it is fascinating. Besides all these positive advantages of the game itself, basketball is a most valuable game because it is adapted to boys and girls of all ages; it is so simple that players enjoy it from the beginning; it may be played in a gymnasium of any size or shape, and is also a good outdoor game; and it requires less paraphernalia for the game and the players than any other game.
There are dangers in basketball when the game is not properly regulated. The game is so fascinating that players are tempted to play until overfatigued; students whose hearts are weak or who are untrained should be cautioned and supervised most carefully if allowed to play at all. Many cases of heart strain and impaired health have resulted from unregulated basketball. The game is so exciting that it easily degenerates into a rough and tumble fight for the ball, if not carefully regulated. Students should never be permitted to play basketball without an umpire to direct the game and enforce the rules.
College men play basketball with 5 players on a side, and the players are allowed to run all over the court. Many of the leading directors of physical education consider this game too violent for girls and women. In order to meet this objection, Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent modified the game by dividing the court into three equal parts and limiting the activity of each player to one third of the court. The modified game is usually played with 9 on a side though it may be played with 7 or even 5 on a side. The rules are the same as in the men's game, except that the players are required to remain in one section of the court, and the rules governing rough playing are more severe. The result of these modifications is a less strenuous game, much better adapted to girls and women than the regular game as played by men.
End of excerpt.
On a side note can you imagine living in 1919 and being told that because you were a woman you weren't able to play such a strenuous game?