A contact non-contact sport

“No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.”

That’s the fifth out of the 13 original rules that Dr. James A. Naismith came up with when he invented the game of basketball in 1891. Wanting to create a game that would be an indoor workout for track athletes during the winter months, he originally designed designed it to be a non-contact sport.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm. Exposure: 1/400th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 2500)

From the addition of dribbling to the reduction from nine to five players, basketball has gone through many changes since its beginning. Contact has become part of the modern game. So much so, many players mouth guards which were once reserved for sports like football. Pushing for position for a rebound or bumping while chasing a loose ball are allowed without penalty. Some leeway is given by the refs. I’ve seen some games where the whistle was blown at the slightest touch, while there have been others where play has been just short of a mixed martial arts cage match.

While it’s not as rough as football or hockey who’s raison d’etre is running into your opponent, would if Naismith would even recognize basketball today? I wonder what those games would look like today if he invented them?

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