Canadian physical education instructor James Naismith (1861-1939) was born on this day. As a young man, he received his degree in theology and excelled in sports.
When he was 30, he worked as a physical education instructor at the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts. His principal asked him to come up with a safe indoor game to replace boring exercises during the long, dreary winter. The game needed to be interesting and easy to learn.
"I had in mind the tall, agile, graceful and expert athlete, one who could reach, jump and act quickly and easily," said Naismith who also became a doctor and minister in his lifetime.
Selecting features of soccer, football, and field hockey and eliminating (in theory) body contact, Naismith came up with a new game which used a soccer ball and two peach baskets as goals. Basketball was officially invented.
"I had accomplished two seemingly impossible tasks," Naismith said, "to interest the class in physical exercise and to invent a new game."
In 1893, backboards were added. With swift world-wide popularity, the game became an Olympic sport in 1936 with a proud Naismith is attendance. In 1949, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed.
Today basketball, with its simplicity and style, in gyms, courts, and driveways, is played and watched in over 200 countries.
In September 2002, Springfield, Massachusetts honored Naismith and his game with a new multi-million dollar Hall of Fame to celebrate the heroes of basketball.
"Each generation that has played basketball has passed on some new developments to the next," Naismith wrote. "The technique and expertness with which the game is now played are indeed wonderful to me."
Every invention is a step on the exhilarator.