It was 1891, and 18 players stood in the dirt and mud-covered field house. Decked in wool pants and shirts, which was one of the original 13 rules, these men had one objective: get the ball into the peach basket. Fast forward 122 years and this game has evolved into basketball, one of the most popular sports worldwide, founded at Springfield College by the famous James Naismith.
The rules might be different now, but once a year around the time of Naismith’s birthday, the small school gathers to reignite a new but powerful tradition. Abiding by most of the 13 rules, faculty and staff come together to play a friendly game of basketball.
A staple at Springfield for the last two years, this year’s third annual Original Rules Basketball Game will take place in the Field House from 12-1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14.
In need of an appropriate way to celebrate Naismith’s 150th birthday back in 2011, Student Activities came together to come up with what they thought was the best way to commemorate the occasion. What better way to celebrate the man who invented basketball than, well, basketball?
“From a recreation point of view, being the inventor of basketball [it seemed like a good idea]; Dr. Flynn brought me in and talked about how doing a game like this would be a fun idea. So I dug up the original rules and here we are,” said Director of Campus Recreation David Hall, one of the key members of bringing the original rules back.
“From a spirit standpoint, it’s an exciting time because we are celebrating one of the most famous men in the world who invented arguably one of the most famous games in the world. It really brings some attention to the history of the game and college.”
Although the game is in good spirit, faculty and students are still out to best each other. John Mailhot, vice president of Administration and Finance, was elected captain for this year’s faculty team. Mailhot feels as though the faculty have a good chance; although their roster isn’t set in stone, they should be a strong team, despite the rules posing a challenge to both sides. One of those rules, for instance, prohibits dribbling.
“You can just see in the back of everyone’s mind that it isn’t fluid. It isn’t like modern day basketball; everyone is just thinking about what they’re doing and you are going to see quite a few turnovers,” laughed Mailhot as he reminisced about his previous years of playing.
Representing Springfield’s famous history, this game ties in perfectly to what this week’s inauguration is all about. With President Mary-Beth Cooper officially becoming a part of the Springfield College community this Friday, she has made it clear that this week should be as much about Springfield as it is about her.
Reverting back to traditional ways is not only fun, but it reminds the community that, no matter how things progress, these traditions will always be around.
“I think it is really a nice opportunity to create a bridge between a historical event of Springfield College’s past and to be able to tie that event into today’s contemporary celebration,” stated Mailhot.