Basketball's "Birth Certificate" Sold
by Henry Liao for philippinebasketball.ph (01/04/2011)
The money will benefit the Naismith International Basketball Foundation, which promotes sportsmanship and provides services to underprivileged children around the world.
Considered the "birth certificate" of basketball, the historic document was purchased by David and Suzanne Booth. Both hope to bring the rules to the University of Kansas. David is an alumnus of the school.
The $4.3 million selling price includes a buyer's premium.
Before the sale, the well-traveled document had been on loan to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and displayed at colleges and NBA team facilities around the United States.
In late October last year, Ian Naismith, the foundation's founder and grandson of James Naismith, declared that the family had decided to put the basketball rules on the auction block to raise money for the Naismith charity.
According to Ian Naismith, he had wanted to sell the basketball rules for years, but there was no serious effort to do so until last October.
He said someone offered his father, also named James, $1 million for them in 1968 and $2 million in 1973, but they never were sold.
The rules were passed down to Ian Naismith, his brother and sister in 1980 when their father died.
Of course, every hoops fan worth his salt knows that it was James Naismith who invented the game of basketball more than 119 years ago.
A 30-year-old physical education instructor at a Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) training school in Springfield, Massachusetts at the time, Naismith was told by his boss, Dr. Luther H. Gulick (head of the physical training department of the international training school), to devise a new indoor recreation for his gym class that would keep youths busy during winter.
Naismith was given a time frame of two weeks.
On December 21, 1891, or on the eve of that deadline, he wrote down the 13 rules that would govern a sport that would eventually be called basketball.
Naismith gave the list to his secretary, Miss Lyons, who typed them up on two pages. He subsequently collected the newly-typed copy of the rules and posted it on the bulletin board at the Armory Street YMCA gymnasium, which was some blocks from the campus, where physical education classes were held. (The site is now a shopping center.)
That document, as it turned out, was worth $4.3 million.
Naismith died in 1939, or three years after his invention became an official sport at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.
What exactly are the 13 original rules of basketball? Find them out in our next column.