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Author: Keith Myerscough

Women’s Basketball: Net Ball: An American Game? – Part 6 of 7

In 1892 the new American game of ‘Basket-Ball’ was introduced into England by the President of the Birkenhead YMCA, Mr Charles J Proctor who had seen the game being played when on a business trip to North America. In August 1893, Madame Bergman-Österberg (MBO), brought women’s basketball back to England having attended the World Congress on Education in Chicago. It was during her extensive tour of the eastern seaboard of North America that she witnessed a game of basketball as part of a display of a girl’s physical education syllabus. She was impressed with this new game as it...

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Women’s Basketball: Iowa: 6 Player Girls’ Basketball – Part 5 of 7

The birth of women’s basketball in 1892 was a relatively straightforward event punctuated over the next decade by a series of changes to the rules of play that highlighted the extent to which culturally powerful regional influences moulded the women’s game. The adoption of ‘basket-ball’ in the State of Iowa in 1893 illustrates the complex interrelationship that existed between several spheres of influence in defining female participation in sports. James Naismith’s original game, with its 13 basic rules of play, provided female Iowans with the opportunity to adopt and then adapt basketball for their own ends. Influenced by a...

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Women’s Basketball: The “Black Fives” 1904-1930 – Part 4 of 7

The Washington Belles, 1911 Basketball was subject to racial segregation from the 1890s until partial integration of the National Basketball League (NBL) in the 1940s and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1950. For African American women, ‘Black Fives’ basketball presented them with barrier’s not only based upon their ethnicity but also their gender. However, black women’s teams were still able to flourish and grow post-1910, ironically because of their isolation from a white culture that refused to treat African Americans with equity. The period, 1904 to 1950 is known as the ‘Black Fives Era’ when African Americans of...

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Women’s Basketball: An Implement for Ethnic Cleansing? – Part 3 of 7

  In 1904 a team of Native American girls from Fort Shaw Boarding School became basketball ‘champions of the world’. Their story is significant in the historiography of women’s basketball as the women’s game cannot simply be defined as the preserve of any one race, social class, or culture. In 1892 basketball was being used as a means to assimilate North America’s indigenous tribes into western society – the aim being to ‘break tribal loyalties, eradicate cultural traditions and move children away from their past’.   The story of the Fort Shaw girls’ basketball team began in 1892 when...

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The Dawn of Women’s Basket-Ball. Part 2 of 7

  In 1941, Dr James Naismith insisted that basketball had been invented in 1891 to satisfy a universal need for a recreational activity that would develop a number of personal attributes associated with playing a team game. His ‘new game’ was intended to promote physical attributes such as agility, accuracy and speed, in conjunction with mental attributes such as self-confidence, self-control and sportsmanship. Naismith firmly believed that such benefits could only be developed for male and female participants if the rules were steadfastly applied by both coaches and match officials. From the very outset in December 1891, the growth...

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