Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

The Walls of College Basketball

Date: 07 February 2019
Category: Grammar, History, Sports

On this date in 1893, the first intercollegiate basketball game was played…or maybe it wasn’t, depending upon which source you believe.

According to what Dr. James Naismith, the inventor and “father” of the sport of basketball, wrote in his book–Basketball: Its Origin and Development“Geneva College, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and the University of Iowa both played basketball in the season of 1892.”

Those games, however, appear to have been intramural (within the walls of the college) events–not intercollegiate or intermural–that is, not between these two schools, but rather between teams comprised of players from each school competing against each other. Geneva, however, did go on to play against New Brighton on April 8, 1893.

Further on, though, the same source for that statement–the National Collegiate Athletic Association (aka NCAA)–also posits the claim that earlier that same year, on today’s date (January 7th), Vanderbilt defeated the Nashville YMCA team by a score of 9-6. So, while it wasn’t an intercollegiate game, it was intermural, i.e., outside the walls of Vanderbilt with another institution.

Hamlin University in Minnesota became the real “birthplace of intercollegiate basketball”) when it hosted the first true “intercollegiate” and “intermural” basketball game against the University of Minnesota’s School of Agriculture on February 9, 1895, which was won by the state school 9 to 3.

Did you know:

  • Originally basketball was called “football in the gym”?
  • For the first few years they played the game with nine (9) players on a team?
  • At first, the hoops were made from peach baskets without the use of a backboard?
  • As a child growing up in Canada, Naismith used to play a medieval game called duck on a rock, during which a person guards a large flat stone from opposing players, who try to knock it down by throwing smaller stones at it. To play the game well, he figured out that throwing a soft lobbing shot was much more effective than a hard throw. Today, from that inspiration, Naismith’s concept for shooting a basketball the best way we now call having a soft touch viv-a-vis throwing up a brick shot.

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