Mar 20, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Xavier Musketeers guard Edmond Sumner (4) shoots while guarded by Wisconsin Badgers forward Khalil Iverson (21) during the second half in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

History of basketball

The Canadian doctor Jame Naismith was an educator who specialised in physical education at the at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. On rainy day, so the story goes, he was endeavouring to keep his gym class busy and doing sport and so he needed a game that could be played indoors and year round.

He wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot (3.0 m) elevated track. In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, and balls had to be retrieved manually after each “basket” or point scored. This meant that initially a team player had to stand on a ladder and retrieve the ball every time someone scored. Needless to say, this proved inefficient so the bottom of the basket was removed, allowing the balls to be poked out with a long dowel each time.

Basketball was originally played with a football/soccer ball. It wasn’t until much later, that balls were made especially for basketball. They were brown and it wasn’t until more than half a century later that Tony Hinkle decided to give the balls their familiar orange colour so that both the spectators and the athletes themselves would have an easier time following the ball. Surprising to any modern fan of the game, dribbling was not part of the early basketball with the except of the “bounce pass”. Passing the ball was the primary means of ball movement. Dribbling was eventually introduced but limited by the asymmetric shape of early balls. It wasn’t until the 1950s, round the same time that the balls got their orange colour that dribbling became institutionalised as the primary mode of movement for the balls.

The peach baskets however, were phased out much, much earlier in the history of the sport — in 1906 — when they were replaced by metal hoops with backboards. Another design change was added so that instead of having to have a person manually remove the ball or poke it out with a long stick, as was common, the ball would merely pass through the hoop. The scoring was more or less the same as it is today: one point was scored every time the ball pass through the hoop (from top to bottom) and the team with the most points won the match.

The backboard was an addition that prevented spectators from interfering in the game, as it was common, before the backboard, for spectators to try to influence the game by knocking the ball away from the backboard as the spectators sat in the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, where the basket were initially mounted. It had the additional effect of allowing rebound shots. Naismith’s diaries were discovered by his granddaughter a century later 2006,and showed he was sceptibal about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a children’s game called “Duck on a Rock”. Naismith called the new game “Basket Ball”.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Amir Khan punches Chris Algieri during their Welterweight bout at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on May 29, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Celebrity athletes in society

Being at the absolute top of almost any profession is cause for celebrity in most cases. Top lawyers, top journalists, the best doctors and scientists, and the wealthiest bankers are not seen infrequently in the headlines. While we don’t always hear about the best bus driver or factory worker, jobs that are in the public eye or earn a lot of money are often known throughout a country. The best example of this is probably actors and sports stars.

It’s not uncommon, especially for entertainers, to use their fanbase and celebrity to raise awareness for political campaigns, causes they support or are opposed to—John Lennon and Jane Fonda both had very public anti-war activities during the 60s and 70s—and shift the public spotlight on to causes.

While some people feel that celebrities should stick to what made them famous, their role in society as people of prominence allows them to shine light on topics that might not otherwise get much press coverage—and subsequent public discussion. And in many cases sports stars have made huge contributions to society both after and during their professional careers.

World champion boxer  Amir Khan as attracted attention lately by teaming up with Penny Appeal to fight social injustice. Football star David Beckham support many charities such as United Against AIDS and UNICEF. Beyond individuals there are even either organisations that focus on the role athletes play in a broader society such as the very aptly named Athletes For Charity.

Khan is by no means an exception. One of the most successful campaigns conducted by a famous athlete was Michael Jordan in the 1990s and his campaign to raise awareness of and fight AIDS. As someone with HIV/AIDS himself he put one of the most public faces onto a usually fatal and utterly devastating disease.

A more recent example of a sporting legend tackling social problems is record-holing American cyclist Lance Armstrong. Struck by cancer, how the world-class cyclist fought cancer and continued his already impressive cycling career became the stuck of tabloid coverage as well as more prestigious discourse. He survived and continues to work with charities that raise money for cancer sufferers and cancer treatment research.

Despite some people’s rather cynical opinion that celebrities only engage in charity work in order to boost their own profile, their intervention and profile has and continues to lead to positive changes for societies around the world.

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My top five picks for an adventure holiday

1. Dasht-i-Lut. This desert in Iran might be only the 25th largest in the world at 51 000 sq.km., but it’s one of the hottest and driest places on the planet. The highest recorded temperature in the desert in western Iran, on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, was about 70 C, making it one of the hottest (and the hottest by some measurements) places on the entire planet. With such extreme conditions, survival is tough which means that the bit of land has remained unchanged by humans for the entirety of human history.

2. Colorado River. At La Poudre Pass in the Southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado (a bit northwest of the state’s capital, Denver) an unassuming stream begins its journey to the the Gulf of Cortes between mainland Mexico and the Baja Peninsula. By the time the stream reaches its destination it will have carved through the Grand Canyon, a testament to the ancient courses of the river. Although the river flows through a developed country its territory is pure wilderness. Rafting now the river would be an exhilarating treat.

3. Mt Everest Base Camp. In the Nepalese and Tibetan Himalaya one finds the worlds highest mountain. As exotic and synonymous with adventure as Mount Everest is, the base camp itself has become something of a tourist hotspot. While journeying to it may seem remarkable—and it’s no small feat—most people in reasonably good health should be able to make the journey provided they have enough time. The journey on foot takes roughly a week from Lukla, the highest point in the valley to land safely and easily reachable from Kathmandu. With teahouses and Buddhist temples as accommodation along the way, it’s a cultural adventure as much as a nature one.

4. Scoresby Sound. Not for the light-hearted or the cold-blooded! This inlet that cuts into Green just north and east of Iceland has icebergs in its water throughout the year. Kayaking through it proves a challenge and only for those with enough courage to brave the elements. For those brave enough for a northern paddle, they will be rewarded with schools of orca, as known as killer whales, seals, and possibly a polar bear or two. You wouldn’t be the first human to set foot on the shores though, as this area was first inhabited by Vikings some 1000 years ago. Remnants of their camps can still be found today.

5. Kilimanjaro. Climbing Kilimanjaro is an adventurers classic. The highest peak in Africa is no walk in the park, especially when considering the possibility of altitude sickness, but for a reasonably experienced hiker making the summit shouldn’t prove too challenging. Along it’s located inside Tanzania, the nearest city to fly into is Niarobi, Kenya and then make the journey overland into Tanzania. Beyond the trek itself one is bequeathed the opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous wildlife—and sadly, wildlife that might only be round for a few more years.

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Best outdoor activities in Wales

In addition to its ancient language, stunning, lush landscapes, unique culture and rich history, in recent years Wales has become an increasing popular destination for adventure travels and outdoors lovers. With mountains and valley, fast moving rivers, rugged coasts complete with numerous sea caves, and compared to much of the rest of the UK very low levels of population density, Wales is a haven for all things outdoors. The only difficulty is deciding what to spend your limited time on!
Firstly, remember that there are also numerous possibilities for more traditional sports like football (especially after Wales’ success in the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament) and rugby. If you’re in the market for sports of that sort, Wales will not disappoint. With so many different events going on in Wales websites like Bangthebook.com have seen surges in popularity in recent years. You’re very likely to find whatever you’re looking for in the realm of team sports and more traditional sports.
However, that is by no means the only thing on offer in Wales. Over the last decades a sport that has seen an increasing in popularity is surfing. When most people think of surfing they think of warm, sunny, tropical beaches strewn with palm tress and sugary cocktails. While that’s not the case in Wales, it is nevertheless an extremely popular place for surfing, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. The waters are often quite cool and so a wet suit is part of the essential kit for the Welsh surfer as is—obviously—a strong ability to swim because the waters round Wales can often be unforgiving with deadly currents that can sweep one out to sea so be sure to do your research before you hop on that board.
Unsurprisingly, the Welsh countryside with it famed hills and praised valleys is also a great place to indulge in river rafting if you’re keen on water sport, but can’t quite muster the desire to go surfing on the seaside. With it’s many meandering streams and rivers, rafting is starting to become a staple of the adventurous holiday-maker and there are a great number of guides and experts who are willing to take you on rafting escapades.
Not all the outdoor sports are necessarily full of adrenaline. For those who wish to have a more quiet and relaxing holiday in the peace and quiet of nature, Wales offers abundant opportunities for walking holidays throughout the valleys, hills and along the coasts, with the possibility of camping or staying in small huts along the way.
Regardless of what level of excitement it is that you’re after you’re likely to find what you’re looking for not so far way in the wilds of the Welsh countryside.

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Getting your kids involved in sports – the checklist

A childhood without participating in an organised sport of some description seems utterly alien to most people. Almost all of us played on some team at some point in our respective childhoods, or participating in individual sports such as gymnastics, golf, skiing, or dance, just to name a few. If you’re a parent now you may even want to be getting your own child or children involved in sports, and if so, we’ve amassed a couple of things to consider before you sign your kid up for those lessons.

Firstly, be sure your child is interested.If this sounds like an obvious one, that’s because it is. Nevertheless it one that needs to be repeated over and over again. It’s not uncommon for parents to encourage their children to play the sports they played as children, even claiming the sport to be a family tradition, but one needs to remember that the popularity of sports waxes and wanes over time. What was popular when you were a child may no longer be in vogue, which can certainly weigh on the mind of a child. Talk to your children and ask them their opinion before you sign them up.

Keep in mind children’s attention spans. We’ve all had phases in life when we thought we were going to take up a new hobby—be it a new sport, learning a new language, painting, cooking, or skydiving—only to become immediately uninterested in the pastime. This happens as an adult and even more often to children. Before you buy them all the kit, be certain that they are not going to lose interest. Check local listings or even sport betting sites for sporting events in your area to which you can go with your children and gage their enthusiasm for what’s going on.

Try to share in the sport of your child’s choice. Obvious if you’re a bit overweight, somewhat lazy and disastrously inflexible, you’ll want not to participate in your child’s gymnastics course, but where possible try to be involved with them and practise together at every opportunity.

Be mindful of what you say when you’re talking to your child. One can never know what passing remark will scar a child for life. Saying something like ‘You’re the best, you’ll win for sure’ may sound reassuring to adults, but to a child it could sound like you’re putting pressure on then to win the competition. Try to encourage them to have a good time, to practise, and to enjoy playing the sport itself, more than actually winning it. Wanting to win comes naturally enough to almost everyone.

And lastly, be supportive. As obvious as the first one, and equally important. Children are sensitive, so when go to their matches or games or tournaments or whatever as often as you can and show them you’re having a good time too!