James Naismith

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James Naismith (November 6, 1861 – November 28, 1939) was a Canadian sports coach and innovator. Naismith invented the sport of basketball in 1891 and is often credited with introducing the first football helmet. Naismith wrote the original basketball rulebook, founded the University of Kansas basketball program, and lived to see basketball adopted as an Olympic demonstration sport in 1904 and as an official event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Following a number of years as a faculty member and part-time basketball coach—during the sport's fledgling years (1898–1907)—at the University of Kansas, Naismith moved on to further academic obligations at that university, where he also served as the Athletic Director for the Kansas Jayhawks.

Naismith's contributions to basketball have earned him several posthumous honours, such as in the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame, the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, the McGill University Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame and the FIBA Hall of Fame. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was named in Naismith's honour.


Early years

Naismith was born in 1861 in Ramsay Township (now Almonte, Ontario).[1] Struggling in school but gifted in farm labour, Naismith spent his days outside playing catch, hide-and-seek, or duck on a rock, a medieval game in which a person guards a large drake stone from opposing players, who try to knock it down by throwing smaller stones at it. To play duck on a rock most effectively, Naismith soon found out that a soft lobbing shot was far more effective than a straight hard throw, a thought which later proved essential for the invention of basketball.[2] Orphaned early in his life, Naismith lived with his aunt and uncle for many years and attended grade school at Bennies Corners near Almonte. Then he enrolled in Almonte High School, from which he graduated in 1883.[2]

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