Peach basket game evolved into worldwide popular sport

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    By Jeffrey Blackmun

    Whether it is played on the streets of New York City or inside a Richard’s Building gym, the game of basketball has universal popularity.

    According to the Basketball Hall of Fame Web site, “The game of basketball was the result of a challenge from a teacher to his student to pique the interest of an incorrigible class during the usually dull winter months.”

    The teacher was Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick Jr., the superintendent of physical education at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Mass. The student was Dr. James Naismith, an instructor of physical education at the same school.

    In 1891, Naismith invented basketball over a 14-day period. He mixed elements of football, lacrosse and rugby to come up with the game, as reported by the Basketball Hall of Fame.

    The game was originally designed to be played with nine people and today it is played with five. Instead of metal hoops with nets, Naismith used peach baskets and a soccer ball in the early stages of the game, according to The Encyclopedia Brittanica.

    The game’s popularity quickly spread across the nation and according to BYU Athletic Media Relations, basketball was introduced at BYU in 1902.

    Today BYU basketball teams enjoy playing in the comfort of the third largest on campus basketball arena in the nation, the Marriott Center, which can accommodate 22,700 fans.

    But before the Marriott Center was erected in 1971, BYU had played in five different arenas.

    The Cougars started out in the Men’s Gym on Academy Square. As the game gained popularity, BYU moved games across the street to the larger Women’s Gym. During the 1950-51 season, BYU played their home games at the University of Utah and eventually moved into the 10,500-seat Smith Fieldhouse, as reported by the BYU men’s basketball Web site.

    Today, BYU men and women’s basketball teams enjoy notoriety and success as being nationally recognized programs.

    Last season, the women’s team capped off a 22-9 season by participating in the NCAA Championships.

    The men’s team went 22-11 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament, their first post-season berth in five years.

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