A History of Women’s Basketball

A History of Women’s Basketball


A History of Women’s Basketball


According to recent studies, football may have earned a reputation as the most-watched sport in the USA, but basketball is following closely behind. The former’s Super Bowl remains a one-off event that will draw vast audiences, but basketball is stirring the imagination of huge numbers. This activity is more inclusive, appealing to a much broader pool regarding the physical attributes required. And is particularly popular amongst female athletes. Myblackpartner experts have shared an interesting article to show you that women are great basketball players too.

Sep 17, 2020; Palmetto, Florida, USA; Phoenix Mercury center Kia Vaughn (1) guards Minnesota Lynx forward Damiris Dantas (12) during the second half at the FELD entertainment complex. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The first mention of women’s basketball

Since an enthusiast, women’s basketball has been thriving, Senda Berenson introduced the sport to her female students at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, USA. Men had already played a variety of team sports, such as baseball and football, to which basketball was added as an indoors alternative, women’s basketball became the first team sport for females.

Early women’s basketball

In the late 19th-century, there was a pervading masculine attitude that women were frail creatures.  They weren’t permitted to vote, so why on earth would they want to risk playing competitive sport? Even Berenson herself was concerned about the possibility of mental fatigue setting in should her protagonists became too overly stressed by events on the court. Thankfully, the athletes were able to demonstrate their prowess, and on April 4th, 1896, the first inter-college game took place, involving teams from the University of California and Stanford University.

Over the decades, women’s basketball continued rising in popularity, attracting the International Olympic Committee’s attention and debuting in 1976 (the male version had been part of the Olympic roster since 1936.  

Rules and equipment

One of the aspects of basketball that has made it so universally popular is the fact minimal equipment is required. Unlike football, involving heavily-armored players, and entire teams switching depending on whether they are playing offense or defense, basketball is much more straightforward. All that is required is a flat court, a hoop, and a ball. Football requires fields with appropriate markings. Basketball can be enjoyed in playgrounds anywhere, and ad hoc encounters are enthusiastically undertaken in inner-city neighborhoods right across the globe. Players can practice their layups (long-range shots towards the hoop) if they have sufficient room in their back garden.

As with any sports, the winner is the team of five accumulating the most points, achieved by throwing the ball through the opponent’s hoop – a ‘basket’. In regular play, baskets achieved from within the three-point line are worth two points; three points outside (a greater distance). Free throws are worth one point. Players move by bouncing the ball while running (dribbling), and this must be controlled by one hand. If a player places both hands on the ball or halts while dribbling, she can only move one foot.

Levels of competition

Sep 17, 2020; Palmetto, Florida, USA; Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve on the sidelines against the Phoenix Mercury during the first half at the FELD entertainment complex. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

There are three main competition levels. Recreational basketball involves the aforementioned bouncing around inner-city courts and suchlike, merging skills with a sense of fun. At the intermediate level, competitors take it more seriously, setting up as teams and organizing organized competitions. At competitive or championship level, we hit the major national leagues, involving professional players. In the USA, the governing body is the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The WNBA manages the leagues, playoffs, and championships.

Around the world

There are 195 countries in the world, with 100 of these having their leagues. These are often amalgamated. For instance, the Euroleague has consisted of 16 teams from nations as diverse as Greece, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Spain, and Germany. The Chinese Basketball Association is highly competitive, with many of its top athletes feeding into the NBA.

Top 5 the best Women’s Basketball Players

– Cynthia Cooper

Now a successful coach, American Cooper has won championships at every level – college, Women’s NBA, and the Olympics. In 2011 fans voted her one of the Top 15 all-time players in the WNBA.

– Anne Donovan

Donovan, from Ridgewood, New Jersey, won the national championship with Old Dominion University, as well as two Olympic gold medals. Becoming an Olympic coach after retiring from playing, she tragically died in 2018, aged 56, after heart failure.

– Teresa Edwards

Hailing from Georgia in the USA, Edwards was born in 1964 and the proud achiever of four Olympic golds for her country. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

– Chamique Holdsclaw

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, has been voted player of the year on numerous occasions, even coming out of a to-tear retirement to play for Atlanta Dream.

– Rebecca Lobo

Lobo was a keen player for the University of Connecticut. Since retiring (and battling breast cancer), she has become a broadcaster and powerful advocate of health within the sport.

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