Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a YMCA physical education teacher looking for a game to play indoors on rainy days. The game spread through the YMCA system, and the first professional league was founded within the decade. During World War I, it spread internationally when American soldiers took the game to Europe. About 17% of USIndoor member facilities offer basketball programming.
Modern basketball was created by James Naismith, a Canadian-American doctor and physical education instructor. Developed at Springfield College in Massachusetts, the game used peach baskets and a soccer ball and was created to allow young athletes to continue training during the winter. Naismith published the sport’s 13 rules in December 1891.
The sport spread to other college campuses by 1893, when Vanderbilt University organized a team to play against the local YMCA team. College teams began playing each other in 1895, and in 1897, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania played a 5v5 game, reduced from the original 9v9.
Internationally, the United States Army spread the game during World War I as soldiers took basketballs with them Europe. The YMCA also spread the game throughout the world during the sport’s early years.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) was founded in 1932, and in 1935, it was recognized by the International Olympic Committee to include the sport in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. FIBA staged its first world championship in 1950.
The 1930s also saw the first National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and the NCAA basketball tournament. At the same time, the game continued to grow professionally in the United States through several basketball leagues. The National Basketball Association (NBA) was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America and merged with the National Basketball League in 1949.
Women’s basketball developed at the same time as its men’s counterpart, though like other sports, it was not recognized at the highest levels until much later. Women’s basketball was added to the Olympic Games in 1976, and the first women’s NCAA tournament was held in 1982. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was founded in 1996 by the NBA.