“Among blacks, basketball was at first considered a ‘sissy’ game,” wrote Edwin B. Henderson in 1939.

Henderson would have known because he was the person who first introduced basketball to African Americans on a wide scale basis, in Washington, D.C. in 1904.

But, it’s no wonder, when you look at the images used in basketball materials from that time. Here’s the a portion of the front cover of the 1904 publication “How To Play Basket Ball,” distributed by Spalding Sporting Goods.

Fast forwarding to today, are these guys sissies?


I doubt it.

But just in case, let’s go back to 1904 and take a look inside “How To Play Basket Ball” for an insight by George T. Hepbron, an early referee and rules pioneer, called “Qualities Demanded In A Successful Team.”

Hepbron would later be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, so at least a few people (maybe a bunch of sissies?) thought he knew what he was talking about.

Qualities Demanded In A Successful Team

  1. Coolness. — The individual members of the team must never get rattled and play wild, perhaps no quality is more essential than this one.
  2. Quickness. — Basket ball is a fast game, the slow man is “not in it” at all.
  3. Accuracy. — Wild throwing is one of the most frequent causes of defeat. Good throwing is not merely necessary in throwing for goal but in all the passing that is done.
  4. Good Judgment is a necessity. The plays must vary constantly. The tactics that will be the most effective against one team will fail against another.
  5. Endurance. — Few games demand more endurance than basket ball. The running, jumping, turning, twisting, are incessant. Good heart and lungs are involved.
  6. Self-Control. — Bad temper will often lose games. The play is so fast, the interest so intense that it is all but inevitable that some fouls shall be made, and it will often appear that these are intentional when they are not. Then, too, the officers cannot see everything, and the tendency will be to think that they are willfully shutting their eyes.

Simplistic, no doubt.  But, will the United States Olympic Basketball Team follow this advice?

What’s your opinion?

(USA Senior National Team graphic courtesy of NBA.com)