Wood for Thought

📷Mustache club? Turtleneck society? Neither -- it's the very first basketball team.HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

On a cold December day in 1891, the first basketball game was played at Springfield College. The game was the brainchild of Dr. James Naismith, who was working for the YMCA training school at the time. Naismith was handed the task of making up an indoor game that snow-bound children could play. In short, the YMCA wanted to wear some rowdy kids out during the harsh New England winters. Naismith fixed two peach baskets to the wall, documented the 13 original rules, and a sport was born. Springfield College is credited with having the world's first basketball court. A simple black and white photograph of that court sold at auction in 2006 for just over $19,000 [source: ESPN].

The flooring of that gym was made of maple wood planks. As it turns out, the early builders of gymnasiums were right on the money, and sports flooring today is still made from maple. The main reason maple is used is because of how hard and hearty it is. Not only are bowling alley floors made from maple, but oftentimes the pins are as well.

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