Basketball from the Official's Perspective

First basketball court at Springfield YMCA

The Beginning

In 1891, Dr. James Naismith created the sport of basketball. As the Director of the local YMCA in Springfield, Massachusettes, Naismith was looking for a sport that could be played indoors during the intense New England winters. In developing a sport, he wanted to provide an opportunity for the students to stay fit. Not having a game that met these criteria and was able to be played within the confines of a gymnasium, Dr. Naismith invented the game of basketball by hanging a peach basket ten feet above the playing surface.


Most of us have been to a basketball game at one point or another in our lives. During that time, you may have encountered a "fan" who was there more for the sport of harassing an official than actually enjoying the skill, ability, and competition coming from the athletes. The purpose of the article is to inform the casual fan of the perspective of the game from the official's point of view. Over 121 years, basketball has come a long way. In the beginning, dribbling the basketball was not even part of the game. However, the game has evolved well beyond that point and with its advancement has come the evolution of officiating. For the purpose of this tutorial, all information presented is applicable at the high school level. Differences at other levels of play will be denoted when applicable.