Basketball was known as ‘basket ball’ – two words – until 1921. It was designed to meet the need for an indoor sport that would help male athletes keep fit through the winter months. Its inventor James Naismith, a Canadian by birth and a man of strong religious convictions, devised the sport to ‘assist youth to discover moral as well as physical strength through education’. The first game was played between two nine-man teams using a soccer ball at Springfield, Massachusetts, on 12 December 1891. Features of basket ball included passing the ball (rather than dribbling), targeting high-level goals (to prevent collisions) and using peach baskets for the goals (which necessitated the use of ladders to remove the ball from them). Containment baskets were replaced by metal rings with drop-through netting and, when basketball became an arena sport, the backboard was introduced to prevent delays in play due to over-thrown balls landing in the first tiers of spectator seating. Today’s rings are often powder-coated solid steel and backboards may be in plywood or in newer materials, such as reinforced polypropylene resin.