Who is Dr. James Naismith?
When we say basketball, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. come to our minds immediately. They are very famous because of the sport basketball. But what about James Naismith, the guy who invented basketball? Do we even know him?
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Dr. James Naismith was born on November 6, 1981 in Ramsay Township (present-day Almonte, Ontario). During his early years he spent his days playing catch, hide-and-seek, or duck on a rock (a game in which a person guards a large stone from opponents who are trying to knock it down by throwing smaller stones at it). Naismith found an effective way to knock down the stone easily. He found out that a soft-lobbing shot is far more effective than hitting the stone straight and hard. This concept paved way to the creation of basketball.
Naismith entered McGrill University in Montreal. He showed great talents in sports. He represented McGrill University in Canadian Football, soccer and gymnastics. He played center position in the football team and introduced the very first football helmet into a regular play. He also won multiple Wicksteed medals for his outstanding skills in gymnastics. He earned a BA in Physical Education and a diploma in Presbyterian College in Montreal. Starting in 1981, Naismith taught Physical Education and became the first director of athletics in McGrill. But he left Montreal and went to the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusettes.
At the YMCA, Naismith received orders under Dr. Luther Gulick. He was given fourteen days to create an indoor game that would provide an “athletic distraction” for it was winter and students cannot play outdoor games. Gulick demanded that the game would not require much room, will keep their athletes in shape and “make it fair for all players and not too rough.” In his mind are three main thoughts. First, his mind was occupied with the most popular games of those times. He became aware of the danger of a small fast ball and concluded that a soft soccer ball is the safest. Second is that the most physical contact occured while running with, dribbling and hitting the ball. So he decided that passing is the only legal option. And lastly, he decreased the physical contact by making the goal unguardable by making it above the player’s heads. To score a goal, one must throw a soft lobbing shot that was proven effective in one of his favorite games, duck on a rock. He named the game “Basket ball” and created 13 basic rules.
To remember his legacy, The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame was named in his honour. He was also an inaugural induction in 1959. The National Collegiate Athletic Association gives the best players and coaches with Naismith awards annually. Some of the Naismith awards are Naismith College Player of the Year, the Naismith College coach of the year and the Naismith Prep player of the year. He was also inducted in the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Legend Hall of Fame, the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, the McGrill University Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, FIBA Hall of Fame and The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, which was named after him.
If not because of him Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Michael Jordan would not be as popular as they are today.