German and American sport: a comparison. Basketball in America and Germany

Seminar Paper, 2004

21 Pages, Grade: 1,3

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Topic and Summary:

History in general
History of Basketball in Germany
History of Basketball in America

Common grounds
Basketball as entertainment
All-Star games
Some rules
Current topics

Public interest
Basketball and Media


Topic and Summary:

My topic is Basketball in America and Germany and there I had to write about history, structure and differences in the two countries. As people may know, the American Basketball-team won the Gold medal at the Olympic Games only a few weeks ago while the German team was not even there. The following text will show some interesting information about the development of the game itself and all the facts that are interesting to know about Basketball. As I enroll the economic branch at my school, I also write about “Basketball as entertainment” where I will talk about the money-making side of Basketball and also the importance of media. I really tried to get as much information as possible but for some reason, the people I asked for help were not really interested in helping a pupil with their work and so it was really hard to get the information I needed , I managed to do so nevertheless. For me it was really interesting to do something of that kind and I hope that people will recognize that while reading the following text. Something that is important for me is that the people shouldn’t forget about the sport itself. It’s really nice that the NBA jumped into the Food Business in November 1999 but the sport itself shouldn’t be forgotten because that’s the reason why they all are able to make the money they make. And a sport shouldn’t only be a moneymaker at all.

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At first I would like to give you an overview on the history of Basketball. To structure it I split the history up in “History in general”, “History of Basketball in Germany”, and “History of Basketball in America”. I shall first turn to the topic “History in general”.

History in general

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Abb. 1: James Naismith

It all started in 1891 when Luther Gulick, chairman of the physical education department at the School for Christian Workers in Springfield Massachusetts, instructed physical education teacher James Naismith to invent a new game. He did so and introduced his class of 18 young men to the game of Basketball to “Entertain them during the winter season.”[1] J. Naismith dispatched the janitor to find two boxes to be fastened to the balcony railing where they would serve as goals but the janitor only found two half-bushel peach baskets and they used these instead. In the early days, they played with an ordinary soccer ball. “But the soccer ball and the peach baskets soon gave way to specialized equipment. For example, in the early days the peach baskets were closed at the bottom, meaning that someone had too climb onto a ladder to retrieve the ball after a made basket.”[2] James Naismith also outlined 13 original rules according to which the teams of today still are playing. The next important step was in 1934 as Basketball became a part of the Olympic Games. “The first official Olympic Basketball tournament was held at the 1936 Games in Berlin. The 1936 contests were held outdoors in a tennis stadium on courts of clay and sand.”[3]

History of Basketball in Germany

However, it took much longer for Basketball to become a popular sport in Germany. Therefore, in 1896 Ernst Hermann told his father about Basketball because he knew about it from his school in Boston, USA. Ernst Hermann was the sports director of a college and his father, August Hermann, was the leader of a gymnastic club in Braunschweig. The first game was played in Braunschweig, but the game could not assert itself. Hermann Niebuhr, who is called the “Father of German Basketball” today, became familiar with Basketball in 1930 at a U.S.-College in Istanbul.[4] As he returned to Germany in 1933 he introduced Basketball at several universities and sports clubs. And, because of this foreign students started playing Basketball at universities in Munich, Breslau, Gera, Wünsdorf, and Bad Kreuznach. Hermann Niebhur took further action to introduce Basketball in Germany and in 1935 Basketball became an organized game.[5] Unfortunately, due o the Second World War, Basketball disappeared because of the destruction of the country. However, after the war, French and American occupation troops helped to rebuild the game again and brought new life to the game. Because of that great development of German Basketball, the "Deutsche Basketball Bund – DBB“ was founded in Düsseldorf on October the 1st in 1949.[6] Therefore, in 1951 the first German team took part at the European Championship. The "1. Bundesliga“ and „2. Bundesliga“ started in 1975.[7] The next thing which was very important for the development of popularity of Basketball in Germany was the European Championship in 1993. This Championship took place in Germany and the German team won. After this success, Basketball had become the most famous sport among 12 – 19 year olds in 1997 and 1998.[8] The next and simultaneous athletic successes for Germany were the 3rd place at the World-Championship in 2002 and Dirk Nowitzky election as most valuable player of the tournament.[9]

History of Basketball in America

“Professional Basketball in America began in 1896 at a YMCA in Trenton, New Jersey. A dispute between members of the YMCA team and a YMCA official led to the players forming a professional team and playing for money. In 1898 a group of New Jersey newspaper sport editors founded the National Basketball League (NBL) – the first professional league.“[10] In May 1901 several schools and colleges formed the "New England Intercollegiate Basketball League“. To standardize rules and form regional conferences a committee was formed in 1915. However, an official championship tournament was too difficult to realize because of the tremendous size of the country and various other problems. The first successful national professional league was the American Basketball League (ABL). This league lasted from 1925 to 1931. In 1946 another new professional Basketball league was formed and called the Basketball Association of America (BAA). A further new professional League was founded, taking the same name as the earlier NBL. This league is important because of the additional development. In 1937 the first national collegiate tournament was held in Kansans City.[11] In 1939 a group of coaches organized and sponsored the first “National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)”[12] tournament. In 1946 another new professional Basketball league was formed and called the Basketball Association of America (BAA). Between 1948 and 1950 the NBL-teams joined the BAA and a new three-division league was formed – the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 1950 the NBA reduced its size and established two divisions. In 1967 the American Basketball Association (ABA) was formed and disbanded in 1976 as several teams joined the NBA. In 1970 the Eastern and Western conferences were established. In the late 1970s the NBA experienced difficulties when the game was perceived as dull, the ticket sales decreased, the revenue declined, and television ratings were as low as they had ever been. In March 1979 two players (Larry Bird and Magic Johnson) helped to revive public interest in Basketball again. In the late 1980s more and more male collegiate players left college before graduation to enter the NBA and, due to that, the rookie salary cap was transitive in 1995. In the 1997-98 season NBA owners and players could not agree on rules regarding a salary cap and the NBA owners instituted a player lockout.[13]


[1] vom 01.07.2004

[2] ebd.

[3] vom 01.07.2004

[4] „Das Phänomen „Basketball“ – Erfindung - Begeisterung – Verbreitung“ Informationen des Deutschen Basketball Bundes, Berlin, o. J.; S. 4

[5] ebd. S. 4f.

[6] vgl. ebd. S. 7

[7] vgl. ebd. S. 15

[8] vgl. ebd. S 23 ff

[9] vgl. „Das Phänomen „Basketball“ – Erfindung - Begeisterung – Verbreitung“ Informationen des Deutschen Basketball Bundes, Berlin, o. J.; S. 26f

[10] vgl. vom 01.07.2004

[11] vgl. ebd.

[12] vom 01.07.2004

[13] vgl. vom 01.07.2004

20 of 21 pages


German and American sport: a comparison. Basketball in America and Germany
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German, American, Basketball, America, Germany
Quote paper
Julia Mahr (Author), 2004, German and American sport: a comparison. Basketball in America and Germany, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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