James Naismith was born in Canada and graduated from McGill University and the Presbyterian seminary in Toronto. In 1890 he entered the YMCA college in Springfield, Massachusetts, and it was there that James Naismith invented basketball, using peach baskets as the goal.
Designed as something different that could be played indoors with a limited number of players, basketball was an immediate success with the Springfield students. By the turn of the century several schools in the east had begun intercollegiate competition. From Springfield, Naismith went to Denver where he acquired a medical degree which qualified him to join the University of Kansas faculty as a physical education professor and chaplain. He remained in Lawrence until his death in 1939.
Dr. Naismith regarded his invention of the game as just an episode in a long career devoted to the improvement of the physical condition of succeeding generations. He thought wrestling was better exercise than basketball and one reporter said he drew as much pleasure from watching gymnasts as he did from K.U. basketball. When one of his former students, Forrest “Phog “Allen, told him he was going to Baker University to coach basketball Naismith said, “Why, basketball is just a game to play. It doesn’t need a coach.”
In 1936, the first year basketball was included in Olympic competition, money was raised to send Naismith to Berlin so that he could see his game played internationally. When he returned he commented that seeing the game played by many nations was the greatest compensation he could have received for his invention.
Dr. Naismith’s basketball rules took one page and less than 600 words. Today, there are more than 30,000 words in the rules.