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Basketball
Chapter VI - Changes in the Rules


THERE is one group of men who, because of their interest in basketball, have given time and care to the development of the game. They have had at heart the interest of the great mass of people who are playing. I consider that the men who have spent their time in studying, developing, and clarifying the rules of basketball should receive adequate recognition for their efforts. I sincerely hope that these men realize how much their work has meant to the game.

That basketball should spread as it has was beyond our wildest imagination; and for the first two years, the changes that were made and the editing of the rules fell entirely on my shoulders. The first two guides were printed by the Triangle Publishing Company, a school organization, which was given largely to publishing articles and books for the Y.M.C.A. These two guides were vest-pocket editions, giving simply the aims and the rules of the game.

In 1894, Dr. Gulick made the suggestion that we should clarify and expand the rules. There were so many questions and requests for details of the game that to answer these was more than any one man could handle. We hoped that, by changing the make-up of the guide, the game would be clearer to those who had taken it up from the book alone.

We spent many hours in revising and rewording the previous guides and felt that the guide for that year would clear up many of the questions that had been sent in the year before.

In the summer of 1895 I left Sprinfigeld to accept a position as head of the physical education department in the Y.M.C.A. in Denver, Colorado. As this position took me away from what was then the center of basketball, Dr. Gulick took over the responsibility of editing the rules. For two years the Doctor assumed this task, but at the end of that time he realized that help was needed.

Basketball had spread so rapidly that one or two men could not meet the problems that arose. The fact that the game belonged to the public made us realize that an organization was necessary to develop the game and to make changes in the rules.

Doctor Gulick decided that a committee should be formed, but at this early stage of the game he hesitated to call a group of men together from different parts of the country. Instead, he sent questionnaires throughout the United States. Those receiving the questionnaires were asked to offer suggestions for changes in the rules; it was in this manner that Dr. Gulick obtained much of the sentiment from different sections of the country. The answers and suggestions that were received formed the basis for the changes made in the rules

the following year.

The first basketball rules committee was called the Basketball Co-Operating Committee, and its members were the men who had answered Dr. Gulick’s questionnaire. Many of the men who were on this first committee are still alive and are vitally interested in basketball.

Until the Co-Operating Committee came into existence, the making and developing of the rules had been entirely in the hands of the Y.M.C.A. This situation had not been satisfactory, as there were so many basketball organizations over which the Y.M.C.A. had no control. There was a need of centralized authority to stabilize the game.

Realizing its inability to control the game, the Y.M.C.A. asked the Amateur Athletic Union to assume the responsibility. Many teams were unable to conform to the standards of the A.A.U.

Basketball teams, therefore, were divided into three groups: first, the amateur teams that were registered with the A.A.U.; second, the teams which were amateurs but were not registered; and third, the distinctly professional teams. The division of the teams caused much confusion, and some antagonism developed toward the A.A.U. Among the teams that were registered, the organization assumed a strict attitude, not allowing any of its members to compete with outside teams and even demanding that registered teams obtain sanction from headquarters before playing a game.

The teams that were not registered with the A.A.TJ. were under no such restrictions and played among themselves, but were unable to play teams in the A.A.U. The professional teams gradually drew away from the amateur groups and formed leagues. In 1901, they began to edit and print their own set of rules, known as the Reach Official Basketball Guide. The professionals used this guide until 1927, when they adopted the uniform rules and made a few changes that they felt necessary.

When the A.A.U. first assumed control of basketball there was little doubt that it would eventually have most of the teams in the country registered in its organization. The number of teams that did register, however, was in the vast minority. This left the great majority of the teams outside the jurisdiction of the A.A.U., and it lost its control.

In 1905, a group of men representing several of the colleges felt that, since the game had been so widely adopted by the universities, they themselves should publish the rules. Accordingly, representatives from seven schools (Yale, Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, and Minnesota) formulated a set of rules that was published by the Spalding Company and called the Official Collegiate Basketball Guide. A quotation from the first guide published by this group clearly indicates their attitude:

Since basketball has been universally accepted by colleges as a permanent winter sport, there has been expressed from time to time demands that the making of the rules should be placed in the hands of the colleges themselves. This feeling emanated from no dissatisfaction with the existing rules but rather from the desire to secure uniform interpretation and to provide an easily accessible means for effecting changes which at any time should be considered necessary.

Although the colleges said that they were not dissatisfied with the official rules, they objected to certain sections. These sections were concerned largely with registration and the necessity of obtaining the sanction from the A.A.U. for their games, as well as the statements that dealt with the conduct of the players. A statement from the first collegiate guide says:

Nothing concerning the eligibility or personal conduct of the players has been embodied in the rules.

The split in the amateur ranks was destined to last for some years. The A.A.U. continued to publish one set of rules, and the colleges published another.

In 1908, the National Collegiate Athletic Association decided that since the collegiate rules had been such a success, it would publish them. The men who had originally formulated the collegiate rules were all retained on the new committee. The decision of the N.C.A.A. materially strengthened the collegiate rules, and they were almost universally adopted by the colleges.

It was not until 1915 that the Y.M.C.A., realizing the disadvantage of having two sets of rules, went to the college group to discuss combining the two sets. This conference resulted in an agreement by these two organizations, and the A.A.U. accepted the invitation to join. The merging of these three groups resulted in the Joint Basketball Committee, which today is in charge of the basketball rules.

It was agreed at this first meeting that each organization would be represented, and in order that no discrimination be shown, names of the different organizations were to be rotated in the guides.

Though the personnel of the committee has changed many times and the number of representatives from the different organizations has varied, the three original organizations are still represented. Three others have since been added: the Chartered Board of Officials in 1927, and the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations and the Canadian Amateur Basketball Association in 1929.

In 1933, the Guide failed to register the Chartered Board of Officials as a member of the Joint Committee, but I was informed that this body is still affiliated with the rules committee.

It is only natural that from the first I have followed the changes made in the rules, and even while I was not on the committee in charge, I was actively interested.

In 1909, when the N.C.A.A. took over the editing of the collegiate rules, I was appointed as a member of this committee and served until I left for France in 1917. On my return I was inactive on the committee until 1923, when I was appointed by the

N.C.A.A. as an honorary member for life; in the following year I was designated as honorary chairman of the rules committee for life.

It has always been a pleasure to be able to work with the committee, to discuss the problems that arose, and in some small measure to help keep the game for that great mass of American youth.


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