This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The afterlife of a peach basket.
Create a new team sport that demands agility, speed, and accuracy from its players, not just strength alone. Make sure it can be played both safely and indoors. Oh, one more thing: come up with it in fourteen days. James Naismith’s answer to his boss’s difficult demand was basketball. An instructor at the YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891, Naismith drew inspiration for his new game from one he played as a child in the small town of Almonte, just outside Ottawa. That pastime involved young James and a group of his friends throwing stones to knock a small rock off a larger one. To devise a new game, he refined that basic idea by dividing the group of kids into two teams, switching the stones for a soccer-sized ball, and making targets out of two peach baskets nailed high at either end of a gymnasium. Now Naismith had not only a game to satisfy his boss at the Y, but also a sport that would one day be played by millions of people in dozens of countries. That’s a lot of peach baskets.