Springfield College will Unveil Bronze Statue of James NaismithApril 12, 2010
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., April 12, 2010 – Springfield College will unveil a new larger-than-life-sized bronze statue of Dr. James Naismith, permanently installed on the plaza in front of the newest building on Naismith Green, the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union, in a noon ceremony on April 13. Naismith invented the game of basketball at Springfield College in 1891when he was an instructor in physical education.
The bronze casting depicts Naismith seated upright holding a ball with two peach baskets stacked at his feet. Sculptor Elden Tefft, a former art professor at Kansas University, spent seven years creating it.
Joining Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn in uncovering the new statue will be Rachael Naismith, great-granddaughter of James Naismith, who is also the college’s chief research librarian and an editor and authority on her famous ancestor. Other members of the Naismith family will be on hand, and Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno will speak.
The ceremony is a central event in a series of activities on the campus April 7 through 17 titled, Celebrating the Birthplace of Basketball® -- James Naismith and His Legacy, which is a feature of the Springfield College 125th anniversary.
According to Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn, “James Naismith is not only Springfield College’s most famous alumnus; he is a personification of Springfield College’s core values. He believed strongly in the equilateral development of the spirit, mind and body, and in living a life of leadership in service to others. He is one of the first in a long line of leaders in Springfield College’s 125-year history to develop great ideas that have improved people’s lives worldwide. Basketball is James Naismith’s gift to humanity.”
The statue is located opposite the most historic building on Naismith Green, now named Judd Gymnasia, where Naismith taught. Some of the earliest basketball games in history were played there.
In 1891, Naismith was assigned by Springfield College’s director of physical education, Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick, to invent a game to keep students physically fit in the winter.
Naismith drew upon elements of several other games: football, rugby, lacrosse, soccer and duck on a rock (a game he played as a child in Canada). He invented it as a non-contact sport, suitable for playing by both men and women, and wrote the 13 rules that remain the game’s basics today.
The first publicized basketball game was played between Springfield College students and faculty members in 1892. Naismith played for the faculty, but the students won 5-1.
Basketball’s popularity quickly spread worldwide, as Springfield College graduates, including many from other countries, introduced it at their local YMCAs, and the Springfield College magazine printed the rules, which went to YMCAs nationwide. Within two years, basketball was being played in two dozen countries.
Other events in the Springfield College 10-day celebration include a screening of the film “Hoop Dreams” by its director, producer and screenwriter Steve James; reading by sports writer and Springfield College Associate Professor of Communications Martin Dobrow; reading by sports poet Jack Ridl; lecture on Luther Halsey Gulick by Clifford Putney, author of “Muscular Christianity;” faculty vs. students basketball game played according to Naismith’s 13 original rules; free public basketball clinic for elementary school youth; and an exhibition of historic Naismith and basketball materials from the college’s archives. Details are posted on www.springfieldcollege.edu.