We only have two sports on innowiki we think merit inclusion, football (soccer in the US and Australia) and basketball. Global diffusion is the reason for their inclusion. Of course, there are countless regional sports. Fierljeppen is our favorite. However, no matter the appeal of canal jumping, football and basketball are the only two that seem to be played virtually everywhere. Obviously, other sports might be more popular in various regions, but football and basketball are ubiquitous around the globe.


In 1891, Dr. James Naismith worked training coaches for YMCA’s around the US. He was based in Massachusetts. One morning in December it was too cold to train outside. The Superintendent of Physical Education, Dr. Luther Gulick, tasked Naismith to think of something interesting for the class to do inside. “I felt this was a crucial moment in my life as it meant success or failure of my attempt to hold the interest of the class and devise a new game,” Naismith later wrote in his diary.

Naismith’s game required two peach baskets hanging 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground. There are two teams with an equal number of players. Each team attempts to throw a football (soccer ball) into the other team’s basket.

He developed 13 rules. The most significant rules include that the ball can be thrown to another player with one or both hands and players cannot run with the ball “allowance to be made for a man running at good speed.” Eventually, this latter rule referred became dribbling. Other rules included no fouling and switching sides if the ball goes out of bounds.

A Fun Game

The first game of basketball was played December 21, 1891, at the YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. The court was only slightly larger than half the size of today’s basketball courts. His students loved the game which finished with a score of 1-0.

In 2019, the North American market size for basketball is about $73.5 billion.


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