Not Just for Kids
From James Naismith to March Madness
by Nancy Hoffmann Photos by Phil
Mens and womens college basketball teams from across the country are playing in the NCAA Tournament right now to decide who will be national champion. Many people call the tournament March Madness because its played in March and basketball fans get a little crazy cheering for their team.
Basketball is an all-American game, but it was invented by a Canadian, James Naismith. In 1891, Naismith was a physical education teacher in Massachusetts who needed an indoor game to keep his students busy during the winter months.
He started by nailing two peach baskets to the gym balcony. Then he had to decide what kind of a ball to use. Remember, basketballs didnt exist. Would it be a rugby ball or a soccer ball? He chose the soccer ball, and the game was an instant hit.
But the basketball played by Naismiths students didnt look anything like the games youll see on television during the tournament.
Back then, the game had only 13 rules, including that a player couldnt run with the ball. Today, players dribble the ball. But in the early days of the game, no one had thought up the dribble yet. So the players would run while batting the ball back and forth above their heads or roll the ball across the floor while they ran beside it.
Each basket was worth only one point and, when a team scored, play stopped. No one had thought to cut out the bottom of the peach baskets. Someone had to haul out a ladder and climb up to get the ball.
The backboard was eventually added, but not to help the players. No, it was made to keep the fans sitting in the balcony from reaching out over the basket and blocking the opposing teams shot.
Basketball keeps changing. We now have three-point shots and dunks, things Naismith would never have thought of. But the changes make the game fun to play and watch.
Follow the Terrapins
The University of Maryland Terrapins are competing in the tournament. Can you find the team in the brackets? The brackets list the play-off schedule.
You can find the brackets in the sports page of the newspaper or at www.ncaasports.com/basketball/mens/brackets.
The Terrapins have already beaten UNC-Wilmington and Xavier. Who do they play next? What city will they be playing in?
Whats a Terrapin?
The Maryland teams mascot is the diamondback terrapin, a turtle that lives in Chesapeake Country. Did you know that its also the state reptile? Terrapins hibernate in the mud all winter, but dont look for them anytime soon. They wont be crawling out until May. This summer, you can spot them by the diamond shaped patterns on their shells.
In the tournament, the Terrapins play against Seahawks, Musketeers and Spartans.
Do you know what these mascots are? Try to find out, so you can decide if the turtle is a fierce enough mascot to face these challengers.
This Weeks Kids Stuff
Friday, March 28
Search for Spring Peepers
Kids ages 5+ look for frogs peeping-out at spring in 1.5-mile hike outdoors with Park rangers Bryan Gomes and Chris Young. 6pm @ Quiet Waters Park, off Bay Ridge Rd, Annapolis. Free; rsvp: 410/222-1777.
Sat., March 29
What Every Babysitter Should Know
Ages 13+ learn child development, dealing w/difficult situations, responsibilities and marketing. Certificate awarded upon class completion. 10am-1:30pm @ YMCA building, Ritchie Hwy., Arnold. $30 w/member discount; rsvp: 410/626-7800.
Junior Paleontologists Hunt Fossils
Kids ages 8-12 visit a local site (in a museum van) rich w/fossiliferous clay. Collect fossils and identify and label your finds. Afterwards, enjoy a snack. 1-3:30pm @ Calvert Marine Museum, off Rt. 2, Solomons. $10 w/member discount; rsvp: 410-326-2042 x 45 email@example.com.
Tuesday, April 1, April Fool's Day!
April Showers Bring Forth Raindrops
Kids ages 3-5 (w/adult) wonder what rain is and where it comes from. Learn about evaporation and condensation as you make rain in an experiment. 10:30am-noon @ Kings Landing Park, Huntingtown. $3; RSVP: 410/535-2661.
April Fools Read
Kids of all ages giggle together at silly stories and funny fables. 11am @ Barnes & Noble, Harbour Center, Solomons Island Rd. Annapolis: 410/573-1115.