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Sports! - January 10, 2014

Q: Dr. James Naismith often had trouble winning the game he invented. During his first appearance as basketball coach at the University of Kansas, Naismith watched his Jayhawks lose 16-to-5. Name the team that beat the Jayhawks on that day, back in February of 1899.KU-BBall 1899-Spencer-University-ArchivesFirst basketball team for the University of Kansas, 1898-1899. Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, is in the back row, far right. (Photo via Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University Archives, University of Kansas)


A: Kansas City YMCA


James-Naismith BBall_SpencerDr. James Naismith holding a basketball, standing next to peach baskets (goals). (Photo via Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University Archives, University of Kansas)

On Feb. 3, 1899, the University of Kansas basketball team got bested by the Kansas City YMCA. The final score was 16-to-5. It wasn’t a good start for Dr. James Naismith in his first outing as KU’s head basketball coach. The Canadian-born Naismith, who had invented the game just eight years earlier, never really believed the game could be coached. Perhaps that’s why he’s the only men’s basketball coach in KU history to have a losing record (55-60). No matter. Naismith was still part of the inaugural class inducted into the sport’s national hall of fame. That would be the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, named in his honor. A number of other awards are named after Naismith, which seems only fitting since an estimated 300 million people now play basketball worldwide.


Fun Factoid: James Naismith never had a middle name and never signed his name with the initial "A" in it. The "A" was added by some administrator at the University of Kansas, which is why you often see his name listed as “James A. Naismith.”


Fun Factoid #2: Naismith also coached at Baker University in Baldwin City.



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