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Basketball | Suntan Sports | Playing Baseball under the Sun

In December of 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian/American clergyman, educator and physician is credited with the creation of the game we call…BASKETBALL. As an instructor at what is now Springfield College in Springfield, MA, Naismith was asked by his superior, Dr. Luther Gulick, to formulate a vigorous game that could be played indoors during the winter. Basketball can definitely be real “vigorous”! Naismith is said to have drawn from hockey, soccer and football for the elements of this new game. The first ball used was a soccer ball thrown through wooden peach baskets hung on the wall about 10’ off the ground. The game originally had 13 rules of play and they have not been significantly modified in 108 years. By 1894 it had already crossed both oceans to France, China and a dozen other nations. In the beginning, a team consisted of 9 players but by 1897 the standard changed to 5 on a team. The first professional league was the National League formed in 1898! In 1936, Dr. Naismith, attended the Berlin Olympics to watch the United States beat Canada for the Gold Medal. Can you imagine the pride he felt!?! He died three years later and shortly after this a Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, the birthplace of basketball, was discussed. Since 1959 the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has inducted coaches, players and recorded moments of exceptional importance. In 1969 a new building was dedicated and opened to the public, then by the 1980’s the game had exploded and become so popular that a much larger building was needed. Meanwhile in 1989 in his hometown of Almonte, Ontario, Canada, a foundation was formed to create the Naismith Museum and the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame. What could be more fitting for the Canadian/American creator of an “everyman” kind of game.

The Harlem Globetrotters, also known as the “Ambassadors of Goodwill”®, have always been my favorite “team” due to their entertaining high jinks and superb ball handling. I was lucky enough to see them live many years ago in Chicago but have not had another opportunity since and have had to be satisfied with the times they have been on TV. The team was formed in 1927 as an “exhibition team”, and has entertained millions, perhaps billions, for 82 years! The players are so enthusiastic, funny and seem to play for love of the game.

Over the years my interest peaked and waned over individual Pro teams but more significantly, I followed specific players. Bill Russell first caught my attention at a young age and I loved sitting with my dad watching this great man play. He is/was what I call a class act. The next player I remember enjoying was Larry Bird, he just seemed to be able to do anything and appeared to really enjoy what he was doing. Once Magic Johnson came on the scene, the Larry Bird/Magic Johnson rivalry kept everyone interested. Then there is Michael Jordan who is just an all round great athlete. He played enthusiastically full out all the time. The combo of Magic players Shaq O’Neal and Penny Hardaway was the last time I really got worked up. Shaq actually made Penny look little but they clicked and averaged over 40 points a game for the 3 seasons they played together. The fact that court size is small in comparison with football and baseball, fans tend to feel a closeness that adds another dimension to the game. Season ticket holders get to know the others around them and mascots may wander up in the stands on a regular basis. At least that was my experience with the Orlando Magic and Stuff the Magic Dragon. Stuff’s high jinks and interaction with fans in the stands always made each game a very enjoyable event, win or lose.

Basketball is one of those games that can easily be played just about anywhere. Find a relatively smooth hard surface or not, the right size ball and something that resembles a hoop and you have the makings of fun. Besides, you don’t have to have a huge area in order to enjoy yourself. It can be a ‘time passer’ for an individual, part of a one on one contest or competition between teams. Now I personally have played very little basketball inside, fulfilling my gym credits was the extent of it. My experience is hanging out in the driveway shootin’ hoops with family and friends. Outside in the sun and fresh air and being the fair skin type, I have to choose wisely which sunscreen or tanning lotion to use. Basketball does not lend itself to wearing a hat to protect delicate facial skin so a good, preferably organic, sunscreen is what I must use. You know those floating basketball hoops and balls for the pool? Being a “water baby” pool basketball is one of my favorite ways to play. I know it is not “real” basketball but I find the exercise and tan I gain are definite pluses. Work on my tan, jump in the pool, play a bit then back out working on the tan. Whether you shoot hoops by yourself or are part of a bunch of friends, it is one of those games that is easy to begin, end or join. Neighborhoods with an outside court are sites of seemingly never ending games. People join in or leave as their schedule demands. Whether the player is a man, woman or child, basketball just lends itself to being easy to learn and enjoy.

Check out our store Suntan Store for either a free standing basketball hoop or those that you may mount. Whether you follow the Pros or enjoy it as a family sport, basketball is a wonderfully American game.

-Miss Suntan

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