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     Volume 5 Issue 94 | May 12, 2006 |

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Basketball was first played 1,700 years ago
In 1891, James Naismith, a physical education instructor, was thinking about new ways of providing exercise for the young men. He nailed peach baskets onto the balconies at either end of a gymnasium and challenged his student to throw a soccer ball into them from below. Thus modern basketball was born.

The metal hoop (ring) was introduced in 1893 and soon thereafter the use of a soccer ball was replaced by the first basketball. A modern basketball measures 24 cm (9 1/2 inches) in diameter and 75 to 76 cm (29 1/2 to 30 in) in circumference, and weighs about half-a-kilogram (20 to 22 oz). The metal orange hoops measure 45,7 cm (18 in) in diameter. The synthetic ball has a grippable, pebbled surface.

A form of basketball was played for hundreds of years before modern basketball was introduced. The remuneration was also quite different from what today's stars get. In Mayan times (300 - 900 AD), a player who scored a goal could claim the property of any spectator that he could catch.

In the ancient Olympics athletes competed in the nude
The word "gymnasium" comes from the Greek word gymnos, which means naked. In ancient times athletes practised in the nude to the accompaniment of music. They also performed naked at the Olympic Games. Women were not allowed to participate or even to attend as spectators.

The History of Football (Soccer)
A sport similar to football was played 3,000 years ago in Japan. Chinese text from 50 BC mentions football-type games between teams from Japan and China. A text dating from 611 AD confirms that football was played in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.

Ancient Greeks and Romans also played a game that resembled football - although the Greeks permitted carrying of the ball. Olympic games in ancient Rome featured a 50-minute football game with twenty-seven men on a side.

How the sport spread from the East to Europe is not clear but England became the home of modern football. At first the game had a bad reputation among English royalty - possibly because of the noise the fans made - by whose insistence the government passed laws against it. King Edward (1307-1327) proclaimed, "For as much as there is a great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls, from which many evils may arise, which God forbid, we forbid on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city." In 1365 King Edward III banned football because of its excessive violence and for military reasons playing took time away from archery practice the game had become too popular to be curtailed. King Henry IV and Henry VIII passed laws against the sport, and Queen Elizabeth I "had soccer players jailed for a week, with follow-up church penance"

Laws failed to slow the popularity of football and by 1681 it received official sanction in England. The games were still ruff and noisy, with players hardly ever leaving the field without broken bones or even being spiked. There was no standard set for the size of teams or the field; the earliest organised games, usually bitter confrontations between teams from two or three parishes, had goals as far as 5 km (3 miles) apart. It was only by 1801 that it was (somewhat) agreed that teams should have an equal number of players and that the playing area should be about 91 metres (100 yards). Records show that Eton college drew up the first written rules of football in 1815. (The modern standardised rules are known as the Cambridge rules.)

The 11-player team was standardised in 1870. The crossbar between two goalposts became mandatory in 1875. The goalkeeper was formally distinguished in the 1880s.

The first football club was formed in Sheffield, England in 1857. The Football Association was founded on 26 October 1863 by 11 clubs meeting in London. (The word association was abbreviated to assoc., which became "soccer.") The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), was created in 1904 to co-ordinate the national football associations in the world. The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay.



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