Like almost every sport we know today, basketball has gone through a long period of evolution. With its beginnings in the 19th century, the sport is one of the oldest sports out there.
But when exactly did it start? Who invented the portable basketball hoop? The official start of basketball coincided with the invention of the basketball hoop in 1891. The basketball hoop was invented and created by James Smith, a Canadian professor of physical education at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusets.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how and why the basketball hoop was invented, who was behind the idea, and how the hoop evolved over the years. Today, basketball is a multi-billion industry where basketball hoops are entirely different than the original basket hoop. The goal of the game, though, still remains the same – to score more times than the opponent.
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The First Basketball Hoop
James Smith was the instructor of physical education at the YMCA in Massachusets. During the winter, his gym classes were forced to do indoor activities, but James Smith thought that there was not enough equipment or the means to keep his class fit. As the cold crept in, he experimented with various ball games, until he found the winning recipe.
In 1891, he came up with the idea of placing a peach basket on a 10-ft. pole. Two teams would compete against each other, and the winner would be the team that put the ball into the basket more times than the other. At first, the game was played with a soccer ball, which later evolved into a basketball. The soccer balls were too inconsistent with bounces as they had stitches where the bladder would be put into the ball to make it bounce.
How Did the First Hoop Look Like?
The first basketball hoop was crude, although it did get the job done. It was a simple peach basket in very poor condition. The basket was then placed onto a 10-ft. pole to make it more challenging for the players. It was a novel idea that evolved a lot in the following years. Smith finally found a better way to keep his class fit, and the sport quickly became one of the most popular between the players.
Although the beginnings were still undefined; Smith still had a lot of work to do. First, he needed to define the rules of the game, as arguments started to become more and more common.
Another nagging issue was the fact that the basket had no hole at the bottom. This meant that the players had to climb onto a ladder to collect the ball every time someone scored. As you can imagine, this was annoying, and the professor had to think of a solution for that.
The sport was initially played with “association football” balls, which were the first soccer balls in use at that moment in time. It is likely that Smith’s classes played soccer on a regular basis, but were forced to refrain from outdoor activities due to harsh winters.
Smith had to think of a way to keep the class fit during the winter. As there was not as much space indoors as outdoors, he thought of basketball. Although the name of the sport was also undefined at the start; later on, he named it basketball as the ball had to be put into a basket, quite literally.
The Evolution of the Basketball Hoop
As the sport gained popularity, the first problems of the basketball hoops were starting to show. For one, the players had to constantly climb up the ladders to collect the ball. This evolution probably came to life early on, likely in 1892. The bottom of the basket was cut so that the ball could escape the hoop without the need to collect it by climbing a ladder.
The year 1893 was crucial for the evolution of the basketball hoop. First, a backboard was added to the game. The reasons behind this were that the balls often flew into the crowds, who interfered with the play because of that.
Another reason was that the basket was hard to hit from long distances. But this was not the complete evolution of the backboard. Later that year, the box on the basketball backboard was added for better visibility. This increased the chance of long-distance shots, as well as enabled dunks.
However, the evolution of the hoop was still far from complete. It was still not stable enough for dunks, which happened more frequently. The basket easily tipped and fell to the ground; it needed more solidity. For that reason, a metal rim was used for the basket. This evolution happened only 10 years after the first basketball hoop was invented in 1891. In 1894, the basketball was invented, which also made the game much easier and the ball more controllable.
Additionally, first basketball nets started to become developed. In 1893, first nets from wire were designed. This was done finally in 1912 when nylon nets were added to the hoop instead of the wire nets.
The Basketball Hoop Today
From 1912 to today, basketball hoops became sturdier and more stable. This was due to the dunks that became commonplace, and the players also started to throw long-distance shots. Visibility was still a problem, though. Today, the backboards are made from glass and there are set dimensions that every basketball hoop has to follow.
The diameter of the hoop has to be 18 inches, while the net can be between 15 to 18 inches in length. The distance from the floor to the hoop is still the same, though – 10 feet. In essence, the hoops still play the same function as they did back in 1891, although they are much more advanced, sturdy, and equipped with the latest technology.
Last update on 2021-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Today, basketball hoops are becoming more and more portable so that the game is accessible everywhere we want it. One of the best places to have a basketball hoop is on your driveway, at home. This way, you can practice basketball shots at home and increase your precision. Here is the Best Portable Hoop for Driveway that you can choose from.