It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad March
Shortly after basketball was invented, colleges were quick to form teams and challenge nearby schools to games. Ivy League schools like Yale, Harvard, Cornell and Princeton formed some of the earliest college leagues. In 1937, a group of basketball writers in New York decided to stage a tournament and name a national collegiate basketball champion. The first National Invitation Tournament was held in Madison Square Garden in 1938. Temple became the first national champion. A group of coaches felt the national tournament should be more centralized. They started their own tournament in 1939. The NCAA took over this tournament started by the coaches and it eventually grew into what we know today as March Madness—one of the major sporting events of the year in the United States.
Basketball Goes to the Olympics
In 1904, Basketball was a demonstration sport at the Olympics in St. Louis. It would be another eight Olympics before basketball would become medal sport. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, 21 teams competed for the gold medal. The United States defeated Canada 19-8 in a championship game played outside on a muddy clay field. This was the beginning of US dominance in Olympic basketball.
An International Game
Basketball is truly an international game. In the early years, the game spread to the corners of the world through YMCAs and service men. The Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur (FIBA) was formed by eight nations in 1932. Today, FIBA oversees international competition involving 212 national basketball federations. FIBA estimates that 450 million people play basketball at some level.
Olympic Basketball Gold Medal Winners
|United States Men||1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1976, 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008|
|United States Women||1984, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008|
|Soviet Union||1972, 1988|
|Soviet Union Women||1976, 1980|
|United States of America||2008|
|United States of America||2012|
A Game for the Ages
For more than century, men and women of all ages and nationalities have been playing basketball. The game has become a favorite of fans who feverishly follow their favorite college, pro and national teams. The game remains very close to the original version created by Dr. Naismith in 1891. Who would have imagined that the simple idea of putting a ball through an elevated hoop would impact everything from shoe styles to the way we spend the month of March.