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James Naismith

Inventor, Coach(1861–1939)

James Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891.

Who Is James Naismith, the Inventor of Basketball?

Born on November 6, 1861 in Almonte, Ontario, Canada, James Naismith was


a Canadian and American sports coach and innovator. He invented the game
of basketball in 1891. He is also credited with designing the first football
helmet. He penned the first basketball rulebook, and established the
basketball program at the University of Kansas. Naismith has been given
numerous posthumous honors for his contributions to the world of sports. He
died in Kansas on November 28, 1939 at the age of 78.
QUICK FACTS
Why Naismith Created Basketball
Name
James Naismith Around the age of 30, Naismith left his athletics director position at McGill
University in Montreal to teach physical education at the YMCA International
Occupation Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Upon the request of his boss,
Inventor, Coach Naismith was tasked to create an indoor sports game to help athletes keep in
shape as they endured the cold New England winters. Naismith's boss also
Birth Date stipulated that this new game should be "fair for all players and not too rough."
November 6, 1861
The result was the game of basketball. Invented in 1891, Naismith created 13
Death Date basic rules and started out using 10-foot high peach baskets as the goals for
November 28, 1939 each 9-player team.

DID YOU KNOW? By 1893 the game had become so popular that the YMCA began promoting it
internationally, and in 1904 it served as a demonstration sport at the Summer
Place of Birth Olympics in St. Louis. By 1936 the sport became an official event at the
Almonte, Canada Summer Olympics in Berlin. Naismith lived long enough to see not only these
honors but also the beginnings of the National Invitation Tournament (1938)
Place of Death and the NCAA Tournament (1939).
Lawrence, Kansas
Enthusiasm for Physical Education
AKA
James Naismith Although his new sport was taking off, Naismith was said to have more interest
Dr. James Naismith in his career in physical education. After leaving the YMCA in Springfield,
Massachusetts, he moved to Denver to obtain his medical degree in 1898.
Full Name
James A. Naismith He then founded a basketball program at the University of Kansas, where he
initiated a long lineage of prestigious basketball coaches, starting with Phog
Allen who would then famously coach ace players-turned coaches Adolph
Rupp, Dean Smith and Ralph Miller. Naismith would have a lengthy career at
the University of Kansas, totaling almost four decades. In 1937 he would help
form the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball, which would later
be recognized as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
He received numerous sports awards during his lifetime and posthumously.

Personal Life

Naismith was the second child of Scottish immigrants. He married Maude


Evelyn Sherman in 1894 in Springfield, Massachusetts and the couple had
five children. Originally from Canada, he became an American citizen in 1925.
Naismith suffered from a severe brain hemorrhage in 1939 and died nine days
later in his Lawrence, Kansas home at the age of 78.

His seminal work, Basketball — its Origins and Development, was published
two years after his death.