What game is synonymous with the YMCA anywhere in the world?
Yes, it is basketball, which originated in 1891 and has the distinction of being the only major game devised on American soil and that too by a clergyman. The rules of the present game were framed by a Canadian-born student, James Naismith of the YMCA College, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, in 1895, who later became the Sports Instructor at McGill University, Springfield. This game was first introduced in the Olympics in 1936 in Berlin, and was first played in India in 1930.
Basketball is a game of dexterity and speed, a thrill both to watch and play. It requires a wooden or a cement floor, and can be played both indoors and outdoors. The ball can be bounced and also passed from player to player. The graceful "slam dunk" and the tall robotic giants we see on television today have actually evolved over a century of bruising, tough and precise competition.
Two teams of five players each can take two points for every basket they achieve, so scores in just one game can run as high as 75 and 100 points.
The game is played over two halves of 20 minutes each with an interval of 10 minutes. Though only five players play at a time, each team can have up to 12 players and substitutions are allowed liberally. Thus the game takes on much vigour and excitement.
The ball, which weighs a little over 600 grams, should bounce to a height of at least 1.2 to 1.4 metres each time and, thus, players develop the skill of fingertip manoeuvring, never losing the ball while bouncing it and running from one end of the 26-metre-long court to the other. The time limit is 10 seconds for each team and, according to the 30-second rule, the team must make a try for the basket after taking possession of the ball within 30 seconds, else the referee gives it to the opposite team.
The five-second rule makes it impossible for a single player to possess the ball for more than five seconds, which must include extensive dribbling. During this time, the player cannot stop and hold the ball with two hands or take a step after stopping.
Thirty seconds are awarded for substitution and five seconds for a throw-in. The tenacity to keep the game going in a regular rhythm of movements and the precise timing involved can raise the game to the level of a finely coordinated orchestra.
I, with my five-foot height, still managed to put in many thrilling hours of basketball during my school and college days. I hope that the students of Udayachal will also enjoy this thrilling experience soon.
Some people are kind, polite and sweet-spirited — until you try to sit in their pews.