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Using Sports to Teach Civic Values

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In the summer of 1891, an instructor at the Springfield, Massachusetts, Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) Training College named James Naismith created a new game for boys to play indoors. Naismith attached two peach baskets to both ends of the gym. After devising some rules, Naismith invited some of his students to play the first game of basketball. Though American society today views basketball in terms of skill and physical fitness, Naismith saw basketball as a "laboratory for the development of moral attributes." More significantly than physical fitness or skills, Naismith believed basketball taught players values. His own mentor, Luther Halsey Gulick, instructor and superintendent at the Springfield YMCA from 1887-1900, also believed that sport and games taught values, especially cooperation and community building. At the YMCA, where both Gulick and Naismith worked, sports were connected to civic values, particularly targeting boys.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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