Clubbers from the Boys’ and Girls’ Club get a history lesson with original game of basketball

As children grow up in an era of basketball where athleticism and the three-point shot rule the court, it’s easy to forget about the fundamentals. But for those at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club this week, fundamentals will become their best friend.

Basketball director Rich “Padre” Flanagan will bring it back to 1891, the year James Naismith created basketball, as Groupers experience a casual, modified-version of the original game.

Flanagan thought of the idea after watching a television show called “Strange Inheritance,” which included a segment that featured the original document outlining Naismith’s 13 rules of basketball.

“With Boys’ and Girls’ Club celebrating its 125th year and Naismith’s game in its 126th year, I saw the longevity and said, ‘that’d be a fun combination,’ ” Flanagan said.

The original game of basketball featured rules banning dribbling and jump shots; those aspects of the game didn’t come until the early 1900s and 1930s. Without the ability to dribble or move with the ball, Clubbers will have to rely on passing to win.

James Naismith

“Being forced to pass will change the entire focus of the game,” Flanagan said. “It’s going to be run, get open, catch the ball, turn and throw the ball in the basket.”

On defense, Clubbers can’t make contact with the person they’re guarding, or they’ll have to go to the sidelines until a basket is made. The first basketball game didn’t have restrictions on the number of players per team, allowing Flanagan to have teams of up to 10 players depending on the size of each group.

Each day this week, different groups will play the game with counselors coaching and Flanagan overseeing the proceedings. Flanagan’s ultimate goal is to improve Clubbers’ basketball skills, but he also wants to teach them the roots of the game.

“To understand where the game is today, you have to understand the history,” Flanagan said. “If you see the progression, you can understand what worked, what didn’t.”

Flanagan understands the different skill levels of each group and will make modifications as the games go along. Although he’s tried several different variations of basketball-based games in his time at Club, Flanagan admits he’s not sure how the game will go.

“I’ve never done this before,” Flanagan said. “It’ll be a learning experience for everyone.”

Other than the fundamentals, Flanagan thinks the experience will make Clubbers better at reading the court and overall basketball IQ.

While he has no idea how the games will play out, Flanagan expects a range of emotions from Groupers.

“I think we’ll see some frustration,” Flanagan said. “But there will be an added appreciation for the game. They’ll learn how much basketball has changed over the last 126 years.”

Tags : basketballBoys’ and Girls’ ClubclubbersRich Flanagan

The author Josh Svetz

Josh Svetz is a senior at St. Bonaventure University serving as the recreation reporter for The Chautauquan Daily this summer. He’s interested in finding the larger conversation within sports and the different aspects explored inside the sports bubble. Follow him on Twitter @svetz17.