Unearthed Audio Confirms First Game Of Basketball Was A Violent S**tshow

"I was afraid they’d kill each other."
Dr. James Naismith (1861 - 1939) with his first basketball team in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1891. 
Dr. James Naismith (1861 - 1939) with his first basketball team in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1891. 

An associate professor at the University of Kansas has unearthed what may just be the only remaining audio recording of Dr. James Naismith, the creator of basketball, who conceived of the sport in 1891. The clip comes from a radio segment recorded on Jan. 31, 1939, and first and foremost, it cannot be ignored how hilarious everyone sounds. Seriously, listen to this clip.

On top of the old-school radio voices, we do get a nice little story from the main man himself about the first game of basketball ever played, which sounded like complete and violent chaos (emphasis ours):

Naismith: It was in the winter of 1891 when I was physical instructor at Springfield College in Massachusetts. We had a real New England blizzard. For days, the students couldn’t go outdoors. So they began roughhousing in the halls. We tried everything to keep them quiet. We tried playing a modified form of football in the gymnasium, but they got bored with that. Something had to be done. One day, I had an idea. I called the boys to the gym, divided them up into teams of nine and gave them an old soccer ball. I showed them two peach baskets I’d nailed up at each end of the gym and I told them the idea was to throw the ball into the opposing team's peach basket. I blew a whistle and the first game of basketball began.

Host: And, uh, what rules did you have for your new game, Dr. Naismith?

Naismith: Well, I didn’t have enough, and that’s where I made my big mistake. The boys began tackling, kicking and punching in the clinches. They ended up in a free-for-all in the middle of the gym floor. Before I could pull them apart, one boy was knocked out, several of them had black eyes and one had a dislocated shoulder. It certainly was murder. Well after that first match, I was afraid they’d kill each other. But they kept nagging them to let them play again, so I made up some more rules. The most important one was that there should be no running with the ball. That stopped tackling and slugging. We tried out the game with those rules and we didn’t have one casualty. We had a fine, clean sport.

Well then. 


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