Although a few of Naismith’s original rules are still applicable, he would have difficulty recognizing today’s game. In fact, his sport would not have the same name if the school janitor could have provided the two boxes Naismith had requested for goals. Instead, he substituted two peach baskets. “Boxball” just would not have had the same panache.
The popularity of the game expanded exponentially due to the global influence of the YMCA. Instead of remaining a simple activity to increase physical fitness, spectators became interested in the outcomes of their favorite teams.
Rules were changed to improve the fans’ enjoyment of the contests. The bottoms were removed from the baskets, dribbling the ball became allowed, center jumps after each score were abolished, and “basketball” became one word by the early 1930s.
Naismith joined the faculty of the University of Kansas in 1898 and was the first basketball coach at the school, ultimately becoming the only one with a losing record. Understandably, he preferred wrestling and football since he played in only two games during his lifetime and scored no baskets. His “Original Rules” sold at auction in 1998 for $4.3 million and now resides in the $18million DeBruce Center attached to Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. His original childhood “Rock” is enshrined in Almonte, Canada.
Of more interest to Nebraskans, the first game between the schools in 1900 resulted in a 48-8 Nebraska victory. KU has now won three titles and 109 games since the NCAA tournament began in 1939. Nebraska is still looking for its first victory. Cornhusker fans anticipate this will change soon.