Official Scorebook for the Basketball League at Springfield College,1894-1895

Official Scorebook for the Basketball League at Springfield College,1894-1895
10/25/2021 20:36:37
URL for full object
Citation for full object
Naismith, James. Official Scorebook for the Basketball League at Springfield College,1894-1895 1890-1934, Springfield College Basketball Team Papers. Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts.
Filename in shared drive folder
General description of the complete original artifact
This artifact is the official scorebook of the basketball season in 1894-95 at the International Y.M.C.A. Training School, the institution in which James Naismith invented the sport of basketball. The book was maintained by James Naismith himself, who also acted as the regular secretary of the league. The book starts off with a few printed pages, that detail the rules of basketball, after which Naismith has meticulously detailed the eight teams (four junior teams, three senior teams and one faculty team, which Naismith himself was a part of) and the players in each team that are playing in the league. The rest of the book is the detailed box-scores of each game. Each box-score is usually accompanied by details of the game: the date, the referees, and the scorer who is most likely noting down the stats being displayed on the page. These pages are structured in a formalized tabular form, with stats being recorded for each individual player. Scoring stats are separated into field-goals and free-throws. A made score is indicated by a vertical line. There is an interesting disparity in the way free-throws and field-goals are recorded. The fields for field throw record both a make and a miss, a miss indicated by an 'x" or a circle, whereas the field for a field goal only records makes. This is most likely because a missed throw is easier to record. Free-throws are disruptions in the course of the game, when someone is fouled. The fouled person has to go to a certain marker and shot two shots, without any interference. So, the game is essentially paused, making the recording of a miss or a make much easier. With a missed field goal, on the other hand, the ball comes back to play and the game keeps on going. So, marking each field goal miss might require more efficiency from the scorer, the lack of which could cause the scorer to miss a possible score. The fouls are recorded in a specific coded format. For each foul committed by a player, a letter from "a" to "h" is assigned to it. This corresponds with the description of fouls that is enumerated in the official rules. So, it is very easy to reference back to the rule book and find out exactly what the fouls were. Based on a cursory look, I found "c" and "e' to be common fouls, which correspond to running with the ball, and shouldering or tripping a player. These descriptions provide an idea of the physical and static game that was played in the early stages of basketball. Finally, the box scores also contain a position field for each player, which seems to be used inconsistently, and a remarks field, which lists any notable events. One of the remarks notes when a player accidentally scored on his own basket.
Estimated number of records in data set
Estimated number of fields if this were a database
Estimated time to digitize all records in set (hours)
Time period when data was created
Organization creating data
International Y.M.C.A. Training School
Individual who created data (if known or guessable).
James Naismith and the scorers of each game
Shortcomings of this taxonomy for data set (if any)
I think it's very easy to compare Naismith's taxonomy and compare it to a modern-day box score and see it's deficiencies, however, considering the fact the modern game is much quicker and higher scoring than Naismith's, I think his taxonomy captures the essence of his game. The choice to include only goals and fouls and in that to not record misses for field goals, seems like a missed opportunity, given the fact that they are recording the free throw misses. While it can be argued that some modern stats like assists, rebounds and steals would have been harder for the lone scorer to note down, I think noting down missed field goals is comparatively easier, especially given the slow pace of the game, and would have presented more information about the game. It would help answer if players were missing more shots, or simply not taking enough shots.
Notes about the image you chose
The particular image I have chose is notable because it is one of the few with an actual remark: in this case, it includes the fact that the Cowboys got an additional goal scored accidentally by the Faculty team. It does not specify which player in the faculty team scored on his own net, and neither does it credit anyone in the Cowboys with the score. The score is simply added to the total at the bottom. Contrasting Naismith's approach to handling and representing this rare situation in his box-score to the way most modern basketball leagues (they simply award the score to the last player on the scoring team who touched the ball) is quite interesting, and shows the evolution of scoring in basketball. Whereas even a single score was notable in Naismith's basketball and wrongly crediting a score to a player who did not have a lot to do would incorrectly represent his skills and contribution to the game, the modern game values a single score a lot less to the extent that a modern analyst would rather have a cleaner and consistent stats that account for the specific circumstances in which the points were scored. I think this is also interesting because it shows the arbitrary choices that are necessary to translate a chaotic, complex and contextual activity like sports into pure, context-free numbers.