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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.