Who would have thought that one of the most popular games in the world was created to be a winter diversion? Yes, you read that right, OKBET players. Basketball was initially a game meant to distract children cooped up in the comfort of their homes during the winter season.
One hundred thirty-one years ago, or in 1981, a YMCA Springfield College instructor came up with an idea that changed sports history. James Naismith’s job was to keep all young men busy all year round, keeping them active through activities like baseball and tackle football.
It was fine during the summer and autumn seasons. However, whenever winter comes, they realize that their substitute pastime was only designed indoors. Their only activity during the cold season is calisthenics and a game called “drop the handkerchief.”
To fulfill his responsibility and invent a winter diversion, Naismith searched high and low, thinking of a way to combat the boredom of his students.
While searching for possible solutions one evening, he remembered a child game called “Duck on a Rock.” For Filipinos, it can be associated with the iconic tumbang preso and patintero.
Its mechanics is to have one of the players guard a stone on top of a larger rock or a tree stump. The objective of the remaining participants is to knock the stone by throwing their own.
With this concept in mind, Naismith had an idea: to have a ball and a goal. To avoid physical contact, he purposely elevated the basket.
The YMCA ballroom became his testing site. He asked the custodian to put a peach basket on the wall at each end of the room. Part of its trial and error is that they have to pause the game every time a player makes a basket, but it did give birth to basketball—a sport meant to be a diversion during winter.
Americans introduced the newfound sport to the Philippines after they colonized the country. However, Filipinos found it to be a soft game. Players wore long skirts and heeled shoes while playing outdoors.
During the first evolution of basketball, girls’ basketball was more popular. Men and boys were just viewers of the game.
The introduction of men’s basketball happened in 1936, during the Berlin Olympic Games. The Philippines were among the participants and trained for an entire month for the tournament.
Ambrosio Padilla and Jacinto Ciria Cruz led the country’s first Olympic teams. Unfortunately, due to political issues, the United States won the gold medal instead of the Philippines.
Although they were robbed, the Philippine team finished fifth — the highest among Asian teams in Olympic basketball.
Ten years after the Berlin Olympic Games, basketball began branching out, especially in America. Two commercial leagues united to form the now-popular National Basketball Association (NBA), thus popularizing the sport even more.
MICAA formed the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in the Philippines. China also warmed up to Western sports, opening its doors in 1980. The Atlanta Hawks became the league’s ambassadors to the largest market in the world.
In 1989, basketball adapted tennis play setting and became an open sport, allowing professionals to test their skills in amateur competitions.
Before 1990 ended, the Philippines was the first all-professional team to compete in the Asian Games. After seven months, America dominated the Tournament of the Americas by sending 11 NBA players and NCAA Christian Laettner, qualifying them for the Barcelona Olympics.