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Basketball is a very popular sport with a humble beginning

By:  Jack Swift

Johnson County Historian


With Basketball in full swing this season, I thought I would share in this column some interesting information about the game both from the view of its local existence as well as its recognition as being one of the most popular sports in the world. It began simply as a man’s effort to design an indoor sport to fill in for times when outdoor sports could not be played due to weather or other reasons.
This game that has become so popular had a rather humble beginning. And it is one of few, if any, that can be called Strictly an American sport. Plus its beginning and inventor can be marked accurately. In 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian-American sports teacher, invented basketball. Although the number of players to make up a team has varied over the years, the modern basketball team consists of five players on each team. As probably everyone knows, Basketball is a team sport and to be successful players must work with their teammates to be successful.
When Dr. Naismith invented the game, he was a physical education instructor at the International Training School of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. The basic rules laid out by Dr. Naismith are much the same in some ways, but the rules have been changed and amplified a good deal. Basically his idea was to toss a ball into a basket. Courts were set up on each end of the indoor gymnasium or similar building. Dr. Naismith attached two old peach baskets to the ends of the gym balcony and established some basic rules. Since then, basketball has come a long way.
At first a ladder was used to retreve the ball. Later a cord or rope was used to get the ball back after each goal.
The roster for the Johnson County High School team for the 1922 season included Raymond Phillippi, Jack Shoun, Rod Hawkins, Charles Dillon, Earl Rambo, Milas Shoun, Frank Hawkins and Ross Fritts. John Pierce was JCHS Principal Some of us remember those folks. If I remember correctly, Milas Shoun went on to play semi-pro basketball. Fritts had a very successful career as an educator, serving as superentendent of education for several terms. Anyway, basketball has been a popular sport for spectators as well as for athletes. Fans crowd gyms all across the world to see their favorite players display their athleticism and skills, hoping for a victory for their team.