Put the Ball in the Peach Basket!

January 18, 1896
First College Basketball Game

When you are out on the court playing basketball, or watching it on TV, have you ever wondered who invented the game? The first ever college basketball game was played on this day, January 18, 1896, when the University of Iowa invited student athletes from the new University of Chicago for an experimental game. Final score: Chicago 15, Iowa 12, a bit different from the hundred-point scores of today.

In December 1891, Canadian-born James Naismith, a physical education teacher at the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) training school, took a soccer ball and a peach basket and in the gym invented basketball. In 1893, he replaced the peach basket with iron hoops and a hammock-style basket. Ten years later came the open-ended nets of today. Before that, you had to retrieve your ball from the basket every time you scored.

In 1963, college games were first broadcast on national TV, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that sports fans ranked basketball up there with football and baseball. It’s a popular neighborhood sport, too. The next time you shoot hoops with your family or friends, you can tell them how it all got started.