Most sports start small and grow over time. Basketball is no exception to that general rule, but it grew faster than many others. The sport’s history is still a rich topic in spite of its youth, and every fan should know the basics.
Basketball dates back to the winter of 1891 when James Naismith of Springfield College had to find a way to keep a bunch of athletes in shape during the winter. He could have forced them to rely on marching or basic workouts, but that wasn’t very interesting for the athletes. Instead, he set out to make a game that was quick and easy to learn and could be played inside so that it was useful in any weather. The result was a new college sport.
The sport spread to other colleges quickly because it filled a need. Every college had athletes who were stuck inside during the winter, and basketball gave them a chance to have fun while working out.
The sport spread so quickly that competitions between colleges began in 1895. Basketball even had a place as an exhibition sport in the summer Olympics of 1904. All of the teams in that event were associated with colleges.
The next few years saw more and more games between schools and even some tournaments. The rules changed a few times to facilitate competitive play, and thus the competitive sport came to be.
The modern era for basketball starts in 1939 when the NCAA organized its first tournament. By 1951, the sport was big enough to support a scandal, when players in several schools got paid to fix games. That sport survived the scandal and kept getting more popular for the next few decades, which saw more tweaks to the rules and plenty of changes to the administrative structure of the tournaments themselves. Those changes led to the modern game, which remains one of the most popular in the world.