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Sports Origins

Learn about the origins and history of your favorite sports.
Sports History

Have you ever wondered where some sports come from? Well, they haven't always been the flashy, multi-billion dollar businesses they are today. Basketball started out with a peach basket and hockey has been called a bunch of different names - like hurley, wicket, ricket and even break-shins. Weird, huh?

Sports Origins - Basketball

Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian who was teaching at Springfield College in Massachusetts, needed to come up with a game to entertain the school's rugby and football players during the winter months. So he grabbed a peach basket he found in the janitor's closet of the school and hung it on a railing about 10 feet from the floor. Every time the players made a shot though, they had to take down the basket and grab the ball, which became really annoying. Dr. Naismith decided to cut a hole in the basket so the ball would go straight through without them having to dig it out all the time. On December 21, 1891 he made the first 13 rules for basketball, which resemble many of the rules used today.

Sports Origins - Hockey

The exact origin of hockey is harder to pinpoint. Some people say it started from hurling - an Irish game that is kind of like lacrosse. Others say it came from the English game of field hockey. One theory is that when the English came to North America they realized that they could move way faster on the ice covered ponds than the grass, so they started playing ice hockey. Yet another guess at how hockey was invented is that the name "hockey" came from the French word "hocquet" meaning "Shepherd's Crook", which is the shape of a hockey stick.

Sports Origins - Rugby

In 19th century England (in a town called - you guessed it - Rugby), a soccer player who was sick of only being able to use his feet to move the ball, decided to pick it up and run with it. At first other people were mad about this because it was against the rules, but then they accepted it and took it on as a separate sport - rugby.

Sports Origins - Football

It is widely believed that American football is a spin-off of two popular European games - soccer (known as football in Europe) and rugby. In the late 1800s, players in the United States decided to use an oval ball instead of a round one and took rules from both games to form a brand new one. For awhile, early American football was very similar to rugby - until the rules changed enough to produce the game you've come to know and love on Super Bowl Sunday.

Related Stories:

  • Basketball - Rules and History
  • Softball Rules
  • Lacrosse Overview
  • More Sports Facts!
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