Women's Basketball

By: Jordan Williams

The Beginning

“Women’s basketball has come a long way from its beginnings in 1892”, says senior writer Sally Jenkins (1). When they played basketball back in the day the outerwear and underwear were concealing and constricting. The only body parts that were exposed from there “uniform” were fingers, neck and heads. Proper women wore dresses that touched the floor. This caused broken bones and black eyes. In “History of Women’s Basketball” Sally Jenkins states that Dr. Edward Morton Schaeffer called the corset a figure and health wrecking contrivance (5). He wanted women to stop wearing all confining fetters and curtail necessary impediments of the costume. A girl named Senda Berenson was the one responsible for bring basketball to a kinder and gentler sex. James Naismith also known as Dr. J, invented basketball in 1891 because his superiors at Springfield Massachusetts wanted and indoor activity that overly aggressive students could play during the winter. Senda then wondered if basketball would be a good activity for women, so she changed the rules and regulations so it was easier for women to play. She divided the court into three sections (today we have two) and required the players to stay in their section. Along with these rules Berenson made sure you could not snatch the ball, hold it for more than three seconds and you also couldn’t dribble more than three times either. After Berenson introduced the game at Smith, which is a school, they had the first women’s basketball game played ever in history between the University of California-Berkeley and Miss Head’s school. Over time other schools began to play also. Sometimes they play with men’s regulations. Officials considered shooting one handed was the proper way to shoot, if you would shoot two handed it was considered a foul because your shoulders inclined inward. People were surprised about the masculine behavior that came from the women, such as running and falling on the court and even calling each other by nicknames. Some parents didn’t even let their daughters play basketball because of their behavior. Agnes Wayman still touched up the game by adding more rules such as having neatly combed hair and no gum chewing. The more and more women’s basketball grew; they realized it was hard to balance their athleticism and femininity (20). As people around the country started excepting women’s sports the women themselves had a problem (20). Men wanted women to still look beautiful, as they wanted themselves to also (20). Women were intrigued with the rising cosmetic industry and took advantage of that; they started wearing makeup to come off as more feminine (20). There was a tournament called “Beauty Queen of Cage Meet”, there is no record of a winner but they think it was a girl with the last name of Leslie. There was a team of girls who traveled the world playing, get this, MEN’S teams! They were called “The Red Heads”, they were required to wear makeup, play well, and look beautiful, also they wore wigs or die their hair red. Women didn’t get to control their own tournaments until 1924. Sally Jenkins writes, “In 1971, we were finally considered robust enough to play a full-court game, and in 1985, Senda Berenson became the first woman to make the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame”, in other words, Sally Jenkins writes that women didn’t get full freedom until 1971. Women’s basketball is a sport that has changed overtime from having to three sections on the court, to two. Women’s basketball is played all over the world in colleges and high schools.

Rules and Regulations

Women’s basketball rules and regulations are very similar to men’s basketball rules and regulations. The ball in women’s basketball is slightly smaller than men’s. A women’s basketball is 28.5 inches in circumference and a men’s is 29.5 in circumference. When it comes to women’s basketball there are offensive and defensive fouls. “Common defensive fouls include illegal contact, blocking, pushing and reaching,” says Chris DeMaria (2). In other words, DeMaria asserts that most defensive fouls include contact with another player. Offensive fouls include charging, illegal screens and over-the-back. If a foul is called while a player is shooting then that player get’s to shoot one or two free throws. Another type of foul is a technical foul, this is where if a player’s sportsmanship is questioned by an official, if an athlete get’s a technical foul the opposing team will get possession of the ball and shoot two free throws (3). There are two other regulations in which the opposing team would get possession of the ball, if the opposing team doesn’t shoot in the time of the shot clock, which is usually 30 seconds, and if the opposing team does not get the ball over half-court in the given time, which is usually about 10 seconds.


Famous Women in Basketball History

There are many famous women known for their excellence in basketball. Some of these women include, Babe Didrikson, Nera White, Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo, Anne Donovan, Ann Meyers, Cheryl Miller, Diana Taurasi, and Swin Cash. Babe Didrikson is one of the most versatile women, says the Guinness Book of Records. She led her team to the Amateur Athletic Union basketball championship and she was the first known women to play basketball. Another woman who is very important is Nera White, she was the first women’s basketball player to ever be in the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame (2). According to ‘famouswhy.com’, “Lisa Leslie is one of the most popular basketball players of the modern era.” Lisa Leslie was the first women in history to ever dunk a basketball. Rebecca Lobo, who is also a rival to Lisa Leslie, has the most recognizable faces in women’s basketball. Anne Donovan is next on the list; she is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. She is the only women to win the WNBA title of a coach and player. Cheryl Miller comes in at number seven. She played forward position for the University of California. Cheryl miller has won two MVP awards. At number eight is Diana Taurasi, she is one out seven women to have won the NCAA title. She has been titled for the WNBA and has gotten an Olympic gold medal also. Swin Cash is the next and final women on the list; she is an Olympic gold medal winner. Cash is an all-around good player, defensive or offensive (9). Swin Cash has been the most versatile player on her Seattle Storm team.

Works Cited