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Feature Story

February 2017


Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball!

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat' - February 2017

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share - February 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status - January 2017

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness - January 2017

Preventing Pool Closings - January 2017

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership - November 2016

Huge Project Seeks to Rebuild Monarch Habitats - November 2016

Report: Camping More Popular Than Ever - November 2016

ACSM Predicts 2017 Fitness Trends - November 2016

CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise - October 2016

Park District Recognized for Collaboration Efforts - October 2016

Americans Support Increased Local Funding for Parks & Rec - October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year - October 2016

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

Study Shows High Obesity Rates Among Student Athletes - September 2016

Forest Service Celebrates 100-Year-Old Campground - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - August 2016

Council Announces Release of Second Edition of Model Aquatic Health Code - August 2016

Study Finds Seniors, Women Less Likely to Use Parks - August 2016

Level Up Your Park With Pokémon Go - August 2016

Research Shows Light Pollution's Impact on Night Sky - July 2016

Trail-Oriented Development Eases Congestion, Encourages Activity - July 2016

Nonprofits Aim to Boost Inclusive Fitness Opportunities - July 2016

Research Shows Benefits of Nature for Older Adults - June 2016

Destination Play Comes to Draper, Utah - June 2016

New Report Breaks Down the Data on City Parks - June 2016

Virtual Reality, Immersion & Interaction Lead Amusement Park Trends in 2016 - June 2016

National Leaders Team Up to Promote Physical Activity Plan - May 2016

Growing Economic Confidence Means More Visitors for Attractions Industry - May 2016

SHAPE America Recognizes Just Dance School of the Year - May 2016

Surgeon General Visits Gregory Gym in Austin - May 2016

Are States Dropping the Ball on Keeping Kids Active? - April 2016

U.S. Masters Swimming Campaigns to Reduce Adult Drowning - April 2016

Grants for Urban Outdoor Recreation Available - April 2016

Physical Education Program Grant Competition Opens - April 2016

Nature Play Comes to Wildwood - March 2016

Miracle Swimming Opens First Pool Dedicated to Those With Water Fears - March 2016

Managing Concussion Risk: Communities Switch From Contact to Flag Football - March 2016

Gallup Study Looks at Long-Term Well-Being of Former Student Athletes - March 2016

Purdue University Simplifies & Boosts Security - February 2016

Fitness Fosters Better Mental Health - February 2016

Restricting Diving May Have Little to Do With Preventing Injury, Study Says - February 2016

National Parks Work to Protect Bats and Their Habitats - February 2016

USTA Helps Communities Boost Tennis Participation - February 2016

By Dave Ramont

The first YMCA in America opened in Boston in 1851—seven years after the organization's founding in London—with one of their original tenets being physical fitness. In 1891, Canadian James Naismith went to Springfield, Mass., to become the physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School there. That winter, his boss—Dr. Luther Gulick—tasked him with creating an indoor game to provide an athletic distraction for his rowdy class that was confined indoors due to the harsh winter. Gulick wanted to keep his track athletes in shape, and instructed Naismith to "make it fair for all players and not too rough."

Naismith considered the popular games of the time—soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse, hockey and baseball. He decided a big, soft ball was safest, and that a focus on passing the ball would minimize physical contact. He also thought that making the goals un-guardable would reduce body contact. So he hung a peach basket at each end of the gym, about 10 feet off the floor. He christened his game "Basket Ball," posted his original 13 basic rules on a bulletin board, and in December 1891 the first game was played, with a nine-versus-nine player format.

The first game featured a lot of punching, tackling and kicking—resulting in black eyes, a separated shoulder and one player being knocked unconscious. Naismith tweaked some of the rules—particularly that there could now be no running with the ball—which dramatically decreased the tackling and punching, making the sport much safer. Dribbling the ball wasn't introduced until later.

By 1892 the game had become very popular on campus, and other Ys started to incorporate it, with the game being introduced internationally by the YMCA movement in 1893. The Trenton, N.J., YMCA team claimed to be National Champs in 1896 after beating other Y and college teams. That same year the Trenton team charged admission for a game at a Masonic Temple, keeping the proceeds and giving birth to professional basketball. Naismith took a job at the University of Kansas in 1898, starting a basketball program there. By the turn of the century, there were enough college teams in the East that the first official intercollegiate games could be played. Basketball was a demonstration sport at the 1904 Summer Olympics, and was officially introduced into the Olympic program at the 1936 Berlin games, with a 74-year old Naismith in attendance.

Kevin Washington, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA, believes that Dr. Naismith would be amazed at what his simple game has become 125 years later. "Thanks to his imagination, what started with two peach baskets has evolved into one of the most popular games in the world. The Y is proud to be part of basketball's living legacy," Washington said.

There are 2,700 YMCAs across the United States, with most locations still offering basketball and other sports programs in their gymnasiums.


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