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Iowa History Daily: January 18 - First 5-on-5 Basetball

Iowa History Daily: On January 16, 1896, the University of Iowa hosted the University of Chicago to play the first ever game of five-on-five basketball. Played in Iowa City’s Close Hall Gymnasium, Iowa lost by a final score of 15-12.

Earlier basketball games often featured between seven to nine players on a side. Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891 at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. In early games players tried to shoot a soccer ball into peach baskets at either end of a court. In 1892, Naismith replaced the peach baskets with iron-rimmed hoops with hammock baskets.

Two men who studied under Naismith, University of Iowa physical education instructor Henry F. Kallenberg and the University of Chicago’s athletic director Amos Alonzo Stagg, planned for an experimental game between the two schools in Iowa City during January of 1896.

Featuring open-bottomed nets on iron rims, the game featured rules sent to Kallenberg and Stagg by Naismith. The contest introduced the modern game of basketball to a capacity crowd of around 500 in the basement of Close Hall on the University of Iowa campus. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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