When we think of a place called Springfield, our minds immediately turn to the Simpsons! It also happens to be the name of the town in the USA’s Massachusetts where Basketball was born. Created by Dr James Naismith, it offered an indoor alternative to occupy students during the long New England winters (all of us in the UK can certainly relate!).
After sifting through other ideas that were too rough or poorly suited to indoors, Naismith nailed a basket to the wall of his university gym and created the place to score. A football was then used to aim at the target, and the first game of basketball was born! To avoid having to retrieve the ball with each score, the baskets eventually had their lids removed so the ball simply fell through. It wasn’t until 1906 that these baskets were replaced by the metal hoops with backboards we associate with Basketball today.
Basketball requires short, sharp and intense movements to dribble or pass the ball between teammates to score points at the opposition’s end of the court. Games are played in four quarters at the professional level, with the USA’s NBA and the International FIBA being the pinnacle of the game. Five players are on each team at one time, with substitutions being unlimited, but only allowed during a time out or break in play.
There are two scoring amounts. Two points are awarded for a successful shot within the three-point line, and three points for a shot outside. There is also a handy 24-second shot clock in the NBA to make sure teams attempt a score rather than try and hold on to their lead with possession. At amateur level, you’ll see Basketball played casually everywhere! All you need is suitable court and a ball to start practicing some layups, swishes and maybe even a slam dunk or two.
Basketball has been played consistently at the Olympics by men and women since 1976. Considering where the sport was founded, where it’s played most and where the top professional league is, it’s not surprising to hear that the USA have dominated the male and female events at the games. In fact, Argentina is the only country still in existence to have won a gold medal that hasn’t returned stateside.
A key moment in Olympic history was men’s Basketball opening to professional athletes, creating a dream team of NBA stars that took home the gold medal in 1992. Starring the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, many of the players were some of the most famous athletes to feature at the games.
Basketball in the UK is very much a grassroots sport, with the top of the game yet to catch up with European countries and the star-studded Americans. Nevertheless, it’s the second most-played team sport in Britain after football. Courts are dotted across the country, so you’re never too far from a place to play, especially with us!
Team GB have only featured at two Olympic Games, with London 2012 being one of those. Having secured the services of British NBA star Luol Deng, the men’s team achieved just their second-ever Olympic victory with a win over China, surprising many pundits with how competitive they were. Hosting those games paved the way for the NBA to take league games to London, increasing the sport’s exposure. The British teams are rapidly improving and are constantly looking for stars of the future. If you and the family practice your skills on holiday with us, your little one could be one of the players that leads the country to its first World Cup!
By staying on a Haven park, you’re only steps from our all-weather multi-purpose courts- ideal for practicing a bit of a dribble or trying some trick shots. From Allhallows to Thornwick Bay, these spaces are perfect for putting Olympic inspiration into practice.