Girls started playing basketball just a few years after the game was invented in 1891. Of course special rules had to be developed to limit physical strain on the delicate and fragile female body, and to preserve appropriate feminine modesty.
The basketball court was divided into equal three zones, a back court, center court and forecourt. Each zone had three players from each team who had to remain inside the confines of their zones. The number of times a player could bounce the ball was limited, and a defender would be assessed a foul if she should attempt to hit at the ball while it was in the possession of an opponent – not ladylike!
At first males were not permitted to witness a women’s game and the women had to wear blouses with long sleeves and skirts that extended all the way to the floor so that the only skin visible was the face and hands. Eventually men were permitted to watch, and women were permitted to wear bloomers which gave them more mobility, but they still had to wear long stockings.
Naturally, as time passed and societal attitudes changed, more physical activity was allowed and more skin became visible but women’s rules remained different than the men’s. I actually had to play under women’s rules when I was in elementary school when we had physical education, because girls were in the class. It was no fun playing in the back or center courts – you never got the opportunity to make a shot.
At my high school girls had separate phys ed but vigorous physical activities were avoided. They mainly danced, played volleyball and bowled. Concerning volleyball – think the back yard variety not the vigorous sport we see on TV. Young ladies were not expected to sweat!
Well, things have definitely changed since those long ago days. Women’s sports have come a long way. Today, in basketball, there is only one difference between the men’s and women’s games. The women’s ball is one inch smaller in circumference.
Now, the reason for all this. Recently, I went to a college basketball game at Nova Southeastern University. When I arrived the preliminary women’s game was just ending. Classes were out for Thanksgiving recess so there were very few spectators, almost all at my side of the court. During the men’s game there were only about 50 people in the opposite student section.
I was thinking of how things used to be as I watched the women in action and took this one minute video.