Tag Archives: november 28

James Naismith Dies

University of Kansas basketball team in 1899 with coach James Naismith.

University of Kansas basketball team in 1899 with coach James Naismith.

On November 28, 1939, James Naismith, better known as the inventor of basketball, died.

Naismith was born in Ontario, Canada in 1861. He attended McGill University in Montreal and became one of their all-star athletes, participating in Canadian football, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, and gymnastics for the school. After receiving his BA is Physical Education, he became McGill’s first Athletic Director, but left the school to become a physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891.

Because of the extremely cold New England winters, Naismith’s students were confined to the indoor gym and thus became too rowdy to handle. The head of the Springfield YMCA Physical Education gave Naismith 14 days to come up with a game that would occupy the students as an “athletic distraction” and would also keep track athletes in shape. He also specified that Naismith create a fair game that would not be as rough as other sports. Naismith was inspired in his game creation by a game he used to play as a child called, “duck-on-a-rock.” Players would throw a small rock at a “duck” placed on top of a larger rock in an attempt to knock the duck down. The three main components of the game were team spirit, marksmanship, and passing. He thought these three qualities would be a perfect way to distract the unruly students while maintaining a high level of physical activity.

The first game of basketball was played with two peach baskets fixed 10 feet above the ground, and a soccer ball. After making a few changes, like changing the baskets out for hoops with nets, Naismith wrote the 13 basic rules of basketball. Basketball was made international in 1893 by the YMCA movement. Naismith joined the faculty of the University of Kansas in 1898 and the men’s basketball program there started, just six years after Naismith wrote the official rules for the sport. Ironically, Naismith was Kansas’ only coach with a losing record in the game.

Basketball was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1936, and since then Naismith has received many awards and had basketball awards named after him. He retired from his duties at Kansas state in 1937, with almost 40 years as a member of the faculty and athletic direction under his belt. He died just 2 years later in 1939 from a brain hemorrhage in Lawrence, Kansas.

Sources: About.com, Wikipedia, Buzzle

 

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Red Planet Day

Red Planet Day celebrates Mars, aka the Red Planet!

Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and our neighboring planet. Though this terrestrial planet has a cold, desert environment and an atmosphere that is too thin for any prolonged existence of water on its surface, Mars features seasons, weather, polar ice caps, volcanoes, and canyons – just like Earth.

Red Planet Day is celebrated on November 28 to commemorate the launch of the Spacecraft Mariner 4, launched on November 28, 1964. The Mariner 4 performed the first successful flyby of Mars and got close enough to Mars to capture photographs of the planet’s surface.

Celebrate Red Planet Day by learning more about Mars or watching some Red Planet-inspired films. You can also celebrate by speculating over the undisclosed findings discovered in a pinch of Martian soil gathered by the current Mars rover, Curiosity. Part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission, Curiosity (the most advanced rover yet) was launched to find out if Mars was once – or still is – an environment suitable for supporting life.

…the Mars Science Laboratory will collect Martian soil and rock samples and analyze them for organic compounds and environmental conditions that could have supported microbial life now or in the past. [...] The record of the planet’s climate and geology is essentially ‘written in the rocks and soil’ — in their formation, structure, and chemical composition.”

- mars.jpl.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/present/msl/

Learn more about Curiosity’s mission at NASA’s website.

Sources: Holiday Insights, Wikipedia, Mars Exploration Program, Solar System Exploration, The New York Times

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