Once upon a time, smack-dab in the middle of the Victorian Era, a female physical education teacher named Senda Berenson introduced the game of basketball to a group of students at Smith College for girls in Northampton. This new game was invented a year earlier (1891) by James Naismith, a Canadian-American physical education teacher and coach.
Teaching the 13 official rules of basketball didn’t seem necessary. Although the newly created game of basketball was gaining fast popularity among men, it was only of interest on the women’s campus as a winter exercise option.
An unladylike game involving a basketball and two baskets was viewed as socially unacceptable behavior. In those years of our history, females were passive little darlings who swished around in uncomfortable corsets and long, awkward skirts.
That dress code, by the way, was also required on the basketball court!!
Because basketball-playing women were viewed as unfeminine, gym doors were locked so males could not watch them play.
Four years later, female basketball players had successfully bucked the system of stereotypes. They shed the long skirts in favor of darting across the court wearing petticoats. And women were proving to a stunned society that actually, they could be fiercely competitive.
Just like the popularity of the game in the world of men’s sports, basketball also became a huge success among female athletes. By 1896, the first intercollegiate basketball game was played between Stanford and Berkley.
Skip ahead several years to 1996 when the WNBA was founded, with 12 teams. A year later, the league was taking the basketball court by storm.
Here at the Basketball Goal Store, we are becoming more and more accustomed to families encouraging the girls to learn and excel on the basketball court as well as boys.
Today’s female basketball players earn college scholarships. They travel the globe with the WNBA, and draw hundreds into the stands to enjoy the games.
The next time you’re dribbling a basketball and shooting a few hoops around a young girl on your Goalrilla Basketball Goal home court, make sure she knows the story of the hard-won right for women to make a jump shot as freely as men do.
-Pat of the Basketball Goal Store Blog Team