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New game announcements in 1892 sounded a lot like they do today

'A New and Popular Game.'

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

curiosity going around Twitter this morning shows — at least to this sports-obsessed writer — how new game reveals in 1892 were charmingly similar to those 125 years later, particularly with a magazine cover involved.

Here is the YMCA's Physical Education Advertiser — the Game Informer of its day? — extolling the new game of "basket ball" in 1892. Of the canonical Four Major Team Sports in North America, basketball has no European ancestor. Baseball descended from rounders and cricket; football from, well, football (or rugby, to be more precise) and ice hockey from stick-and-ball precursors played on fields in the U.K..

Yet look at how "basket ball" is described:

  • "Like Foot Ball"
  • Elements of other games are present including "tackling" (interesting) "blocking" and "passing."
  • Multiple play modes. "Out-doors or In-doors, by small or large teams."

Look also at how the gameplay is described, particularly as the opposite of a currently understood sport. "Instead of kicking the ball, toss it; instead of kicking a goal throw it; instead of 'downs' keep the ball up.'" It sounds a lot like how new games are pitched to a crowded marketplace, particularly since the introduction of crowdfunding.

At the time of its creation, basketball was utterly original, yet its evangelists recognized it had to advertise itself as a derivative — it's kind of like Rocket League, when you think about it.

Dr. James Naismith was the first director of athletics at McGill University in Montreal. He had been a five-sport standout (rugby, football, Canadian football, lacrosse and gymnastics) at the school as an undergraduate. He then developed basketball as a physical education instructor at the YMCA of Springfield, Mass. The sport's hall of fame is located in that city and named for him.

From there, Naismith took basketball west to the University of Kansas, beginning a lineage of instruction and excellence in coaching and play that reaches to Michael Jordan. Today, basketball is an Olympic event and a powerhouse spectator sport enjoyed on all continents (except, well, Antarctica) and in video games.

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