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The Origins of 7 Popular Sports



Lacrosse is older than the printing press. Golf was invented before Abraham Lincoln was born, but basketball didn’t exist until decades after his death. The first book on figure skating was published before the Declaration of Independence.

Sports are as enduring and ever-evolving as society itself. Spanning from antiquity to the 19th century, here are the fascinating origins of seven of the most popular games.

WATCH: The First Olympics on HISTORY Vault 

1. Basketball

Basketball is the only major American sport with a clearly identifiable inventor. James Naismith wrote the sport’s original 13 rules as part of a December 1891 class assignment at a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Born and educated in Canada, Naismith came south to pursue his interests in physical education. Naismith sought to create a game that could be played in gyms during the winter. The first-ever basketball game was played on December 21, 1891. Read more





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