The Start of Sports – Marquette Wire – Marquette Wire

Sports are a global entity. All over the world, for centuries, athletes have competed against other athletes. With games and competitions so heavily ingrained in so many cultures, it is easy to forget that the sports we know so well today all had a beginning.

Below is a brief look into the origins of some sports played today at Marquette:


Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith. According to, Naismith, a native of Canada, created the sport in Massachusetts as part of the YMCA where they played with a soccer ball, trying to get it through a peach basket.

Nowadays basketball is played worldwide, with some countries having their own professional leagues, such as China, the Philippines and Spain, to name a few. Those leagues along with the youth programs in those countries have produced players that have made their way to the NCAA and the NBA, including Luka Doncic, Pau and Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam, Yao Ming and Hakeem Olajuwon.

As of 2018, according to, 78.5% of college teams had at least one international player on their roster and 105 of them have at least three international players. In total, 663 total international players were on scholarships before the 2018 season began, coming from 82 different countries.

That international growth has also spread to the pros, as there are 108 players from 38 countries currently playing in the NBA. As of the 2019-20 season, the Dallas Mavericks had the most international players on one NBA team, with seven foreign-born players.


Tennis has professional tournaments all around the world, including France, Australia and the United States. While tennis has expanded to many other countries, the sport was invented nearly 500 years ago in England.

According to the book “Sports and Games of the 18th and 19th Centuries,” tennis was developed in the 16th century in a format where instead of a racket, players would strike the ball with their palms.

The sport was modernized in 1873 in England by Walter Clopton Wingfield, who introduced rackets to the game. Four years later, the first Wimbledon Championship was held.

Tennis eventually reached true international status when it became part of the Olympics in 1896, more than 20 years after its modern invention. The sport did depart from the Olympics in 1922, but returned to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.


Soccer, or football as it is known around most of the world besides the U.S., is widely considered the most global sport and is played competitively in over 200 countries.

The earliest record of soccer dates back to second century B.C.E. China. There are stories that soccer went further back to ancient Greece from 2500 B.C.E, in a game called Greek Episkyros.

While a variety of soccer-like games existed for centuries, the modern version of soccer was not created until 1863 by the Football Association in England.


The sport of lacrosse was developed by different Native American tribes and then adopted by Europeans – in particular, a group of French Jesuit missionaries – in the mid-1600s.

According to World Lacrosse, games could have massive numbers of players – between 100 and 100,000 – and were considered major events that lasted days. The game was partly seen as preparation for war. Players decorated their bodies and sticks with paint and charcoal.

William George Beers, a Canadian dentist, is credited with being the “father” of modern lacrosse. He created the modern rules and replaced the deerskin ball with a hard rubber ball, shortened the length of the game, redesigned the sticks and reduced the number of players on the field.

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at or on Twitter @JacksonGross6. 

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