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In 1891, Dr. James Naismith, former athletic director at McGill University, invented basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts. He wanted to develop an indoor game for the winter that would develop skills rather than just strength. The first game used a soccer ball, and two peach baskets as goals. Naismith's original basketball had just 13 rules.

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The New York Times, November 12, 1893 p. 10:


A Game that Has Become Popular in Girl's Colleges--
How It Is Played.

    The game of basket ball, although comparatively new, has within two years acquired a popularity which places it on a par with the oldest and best known indoor sports. The devotees are numbered by the thousand, and they are as loud in its praise as an energetic bowler can be over his favorite pastime.
    Basket ball is a modified kind of football with every element of roughness eliminated. It is particularly adapted for indoor practice, and may be played on any gymnasium floor or other suitable place. When it is known that the game is played in hundreds of gymnasiums from New-York to San Francisco, has recently been introduced into Japan, is a popular sport with young athletes in Australia, and is played by scores of handsome athletic young ladies Wellesley and Smith Colleges, it will be seen that is possesses more than ordinary elements of interest...

    The game is simple, easily learned, and not incumbered with a list of difficult rules. It is played with a regulation association football and two baskets, which are fastened to the walls, if played indoors, opposite each other, and about ten feet from the floor. As in football there are two teams, but the number on a side is smaller, generally varying from five to nine men, although if the playing space is large enough the teams may be considerably larger. Nine, however, makes a good, perfect team...

    The baskets are the goals, and the aim of the teams is to throw the ball into the opponent's goal...
    The ball can only be struck with the open hand, no kicking it or hitting it with the fists is allowed... a player may run with the ball, if possible, to an advantageous position from which to throw a goal. It is perfectly proper to knock the ball from the hands of another player, provided it is done by simply slapping the ball with the open hand. A failure to conform to the rules counts a foul, and the penalty for this is one point for the opposing team.
    The baskets are about 15 inches in diameter at the top and of the same depth. The regulation baskets consist of strong iron hoops with braided cord netting, which are securely fastened to the wall. Any ordinary basket large enough for the ball to enter will answer the purpose. In the Young Men's Christian Association building on Twenty-third Street, where there are eight or nine teams playing the game during the Winter, the net work has been taken off from the iron hoop. This saves the trouble of getting a long pole to boost the ball out of the basket when it is thrown in. The ball falls through the iron hoop to the floor, and is immediately put in play again by the referee without any loss of time.

    The ground or floor is divided into three equal sections crosswise, and in a team of nine, three are stationed in each section. A man called the goalkeeper stands in front of his goal, in which the opposing team endeavors to throw the ball... the keeper has as assistants two men at the ends on either side of him called the right back and the left back. The men in the middle section are the centres, the man in the middle being called the centre and those on the sides the left and right centres. The man in front of the opponent's goal in the last section is the home man. The two men assisting him are the left and right forwards...
    The skill lies in passing the ball quickly from one to another, so as to get it down to the opponent's goal...

    The game is started by the referee, who places the ball in the middle of the floor. A goal counts three points, and after each goal the ball is again put in play by the referee. Two halves of twenty minutes each are usually played. The better the teams, the less points will be made, as it will be difficult to get the ball into the baskets. Six points is a good score in a well-played game, but poorer teams may roll up twenty points or more.

    The game of basket ball was the invention, if such it can be called, of James Naismith, one of the instructors in the Young Men's Christian Association training school for General Secretaries and athletic directors at Springfield, Mass. Mr. Naismith is a graduate of the McGill University in Canada, and, after taking a course at Springfield, he was retained as one of its teachers...
    The game was first played at Springfield in 1891...
    The game has found favor at Oxford and Cambridge in England. It was taken to Australia a few months ago by A.P. Stockwell, the General Secretary at Melbourne, Victoria. He learned the game while in the Springfield training school, as did many others who have since carried the sport to their respective headquarters... Amherst College and the Leland Stanford University are among the colleges having basket ball teams, while in the girl's colleges it has found high favor at Wellesley, Smith, and Mount Holyoke.