Oh how the game has changed
By George Starks
In the 2012 basketball programs at the girl’s sectional tournament
sites, there is a list of basketball rules in the back of the program.
I found this to be very interesting and wanted to share it. Please enjoy.
These original 13 rules were the way Dr. James A. Naismith wrote them.
Dr. Naismith was the Canadian physical education instructor who
invented basketball in 1891. James Naismith was born in Almonte,
Ontario and educated at McGill University and Presbyterian College in
Montreal. He was the physical education teacher at McGill University
(1887 to 1890) and at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts
(1890 to 1895). At Springfield College (which was then the Y.M.C.A.
training school), James Naismith, under the direction of American
phys-ed specialist Luther Halsey Gulick, invented the indoor sport of
The first formal rules were devised in 1892. Initially, players
dribbled a soccer ball up and down a court of unspecified dimensions.
Points were earned by landing the ball in a peach basket. Iron hoops
and a hammock-style basket were introduced in 1893. Another decade
passed, however, before the innovation of open-ended nets put an end to
the practice of manually retrieving the ball from the basket each time
a goal was scored.
In 1959, James Naismith was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (called the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.)
As you read this, please remember, these were the original rules.
1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.
3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the
spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man running at
4. The ball must be held by the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking or tripping in any way of
an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall
count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is
made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the
whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in Rule 5.
7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls it shall count as a
goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the
meantime making a foul).
8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the
grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the
goal do no touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges,
and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field
and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute the
umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is
allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the
opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall
call a foul on them.
10. The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls
and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He
shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the
ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep
the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of
the goals, with any other duties that are usually performed by a
12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner.
Now, if you missed something here, please think about the way these
rules were written and the way we play it today. It’s hard for me to
imagine playing the game by these rules.
Can you imagine the referee having to keep track of all goals and the
time as in rule 11? Two 15 minute halves with a five minute break in