1st Basketball Game Was Basically a Giant Fight

According to a newly discovered audio recording of James Naismith
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2015 2:59 PM CST
A 1939 file photo showing Dr. James Naismith. A University of Kansas researcher has uncovered an audio recording of the basketball inventor discussing the sport's first game.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – If any of the old-timers at your holiday gatherings this year complain about how basketball players have gotten soft and the fouls aren't as hard as they used to be, tell them to blame the game's inventor. A newly discovered audio recording of James Naismith—thought to be the only one in existence—has him discussing the first ever basketball game, which took place in 1891 in Massachusetts, the Kansas City Star reports. It apparently didn't go well. "The boys began tackling. Kicking and punching in the clinches," SBNation quotes the audio recording. "They ended up in a free-for-all in the middle of the gym floor."

According to Naismith's recollection, one player was knocked out and another suffered a dislocated shoulder. There were multiple black eyes to go around. The results led Naismith to develop more rules because he was "afraid they'd kill each other." But in the end, "We had a fine, clean sport." The recording—which comes from a January 1939 edition of the radio program We the People—was discovered by a University of Kansas professor while researching a book on Naismith and religion, the Star reports. It was found in the archives of a local radio station. (Read more basketball stories.)

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