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For the ball sport played in the Commonwealth previously known as "women's basketball", see netball
Women's basketball is one of the few women's sports that developed in tandem with its men's counterpart. It became popular, spreading from the east coast of the United States to the west coast, in large part via women's colleges. From 1895 until 1960, the term "women's basketball" was also used to refer to netball, which evolved in parallel with modern women's basketball.


Early women's basketball

Women's basketball began in 1892 at Smith Collegemarker. They started playing less than one year after it was invtend in 1891. Senda Berenson, a teacher from Smith College modified the rules to the game of basketball started by James Naismith and taught it in her classes. Basketball's early adherents were affiliated with YMCAs and colleges throughout the United States, and the game quickly spread through the country.

However, Berenson was taking risks simply in teaching the game to women.She worried a little about the women suffering from "nervous fatigue" if games were too strenuous for them. And, in order to keep it "acceptable" for women to play at all, she taught modified rules. These included a court divided into three areas and nine players per team. Three players were assigned to each area (guard, center, forward) and could not cross the line into another area. The ball was moved from section to section by passing or dribbling. Players were limited to three dribbles and could hold the ball for three seconds. No snatching or batting the ball away from a player was allowed. A center jump was required after each score. Peach baskets and the soccer ball were the equipment. Variations of Berenson’s rules spread across the country via YMCAs and colleges.

See the article: 6 on 6 Basketball (Basquette) for more information.

Early women's college basketball

Berenson's freshmen played the sophomore class in the first women's collegiate basketball game, March 21, 1892. The doors were locked at the Smith College gym and men were not allowed to watch, it was considered socially acceptable.University of California and Miss Head's School, had played the first women's extramural game in 1892. Also in 1893, Mount Holyokemarker and Sophie Newcomb Collegemarker (coached by Clara Gregory Baer, the inventor of Newcomb ball) women began playing basketball. By 1895, the game had spread to colleges across the country, including Wellesleymarker, Vassarmarker and Bryn Mawrmarker. The first intercollegiate women's game was on April 4, 1896. Stanford women played Berkeley, 9-on-9, ending in a 2-1 Stanford victory. Clara Gregory Baer published the first book of rules for women's basketball in 1895 she first called the game 'Basquette', a name later dropped in her first revision of rules called Newcomb College Basketball Rules published in 1908.

Recent women's basketball

The popularity of women's basketball grew steadily around the world for decades. By the 1970s the sport had attracted the notice the International Olympic Committeemarker, which added women's basketball as an official sport of the Olympic Games in 1976.

Throughout the 1970s, funding for (and interest in) women's basketball began to dramatically increase as schools receiving federal funding began to come into compliance with new laws mandating a lack of discrimination based on sex (see Title IX below).

The sport was also gaining attention at the collegiate level, under the auspices of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). A major development in women's basketball occurred in 1982 when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) began to sponsor the sport.

Title IX

Historical Development

Title IX was passed in 1972 to end sexual discrimination and stereotyping in admission to colleges and also in academic subjects (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008). Therefore, Congress’ original goal was eliminating this discrimination in academic and educational processes. “Title IX is today generally viewed as having fixed the problem of gender inequality of sports, at least in educational settings” (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008, 79). It started out as simply involving education but then shifted in a debate to sports. Some groups such as the NCAA fought to keep things the way they were in reference to men’s sports. The NCAA had built up the programs and earned financial support and popularity and did not want to throw that down the drain (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008). In 1974, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued Title IX regulations regarding intercollegiate athletics (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008). Title IX implies that if a school has a specific sport’s team for boys then they must have a team in that same sport for girls. This will occur unless the men’s sport happens to be a contact sport in which the rule will not necessarily apply (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008). In 1978, colleges and universities were forced to apply Title IX’s rules and regulations. Athletic departments had to adhere to one of three requirements which were the proportionality rule, the gender equity rule, or historical progress rule (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008). Each of these requirements addressed Title IX and its regulations in a fair manner. To ensure that schools comply with Title IX, they face the consequence of losing federal funding for any violation (Sadker, 2001).

The proportionality rule entails that a school provides opportunities proportional to its enrollment. As an example, if a school is 55% male and 45% female then the athletic participation should be 55:45 (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008). Not only does the proportionality rule apply to athletic participation, but it also addresses scholarships. “So if a college is spending $400,000 per year on athletic scholarships and half of the athletic participants are women then half of that amount, $200,000, should be funding athletic scholarships for women (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008, 299). The gender equity rule entails that a school must prove that it “meets the interest of the gender that is underrepresented” (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008, 107) which happens to be women. The historical progress rule entails that if a school is unable to provide proportional opportunities then they must put forth an effort to create more opportunities for the underrepresented gender (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008).


Between 1971 and 2000, Title IX has proven to have had a huge impact on female collegiate sports. “Sports participation among college women has risen from 372 percent over that time, from 32,000 to more than 150,000 women (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008, 108). Also now 33.5% of female students participate in sports (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008). The issue still remaining is that women’s sports beyond college do not benefit from Title IX. As a whole, they make less income than men in professional sports which Title IX cannot do much about. However due to Title IX some women have gotten recognition as a result of the debate. “Women athletes receive greater respect today but relatively skimpy media attention. Thank Title IX for…the growing visibility of women’s college basketball that has USA Today producing a pullout section for the women’s NCAA March Madness tournament” (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008, 109).


1891: James Naismith invents the sport of basket ball in Springfield, Massachusettsmarker.

1892: Senda Berenson adapts the rules of the new sport for females.

1896: The first known game of women's basketball between two colleges was played by Stanford and Berkeley on April 4, 1896.

1896: The first known women's interscholastic contest was played between Oak Park High and Austin High, both of Illinois, on December 18, 1896.

1919: Central AAU inaugurates a women's amateur basketball championship in Chicago.

1926: The first national women's basketball championship is sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union .

1936: The famous exhibition team named the All American Red Heads was formed.

1949: The World Famous female Texas Cowgirls team (1949-1977) was formed . The Cowgirls played mens rules against male opponents. The team opened for N.B.A. teams and the Harlem Globetrotters.

1953: The FIBA holds its first World Championship for Women.

1969: The Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW) awards the first collegiate national championship for women's basketball.

1973: The AIAW begins administering national championships in women's collegiate athletics, including basketball, taking the place of the CIAW.

1976: The Olympic Games awards medals in women's basketball for the first time.

1982: The NCAA holds its first Women's Division I Basketball Championship.

1984: West Virginiamarker's Georgeann Wells registers the first dunk in women's collegiate basketball.

1990: Pat Summitt is the first female to win the John Bunn Award, the most prestigious award given by the Basketball Hall of Fame.

1991: A jury awards money for a lawsuit filed under Title IX. Sanya Tyler, the women's basketball coach at Howard University, charges Howard University with discrimination. She claimed she was denied the job of athletic director and was being paid less than the men's basketball coach.

1992: The WBA kicks off it's All-Star Tour on its way to three seasons of Women's Professional Basketball.

1994: Nike introduces "Air Swoopes," the first basketball shoe named after a female basketball player, Sheryl Swoopes.

1994: The NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament adds 16 teams to make a total of 64.

1996: The ABL and the WNBA are established .

1999: The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame opens in Knoxvillemarker, Tennesseemarker.

2000: Michelle Snow, a player for the University of Tennessee, became the third woman to dunk in a college game but the first broadcast on television.

2002: McDonald's selects the best female high school basketball players in the country for the first female McDonald's All American High School Basketball Team.

2002: Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks becomes the first to dunk in a regular season WNBA game.

2008: The first outdoor professional basketball game was held at Arthur Ashe Stadiummarker between the WNBA's New York Liberty and Indiana Fever.

2009: Pat Summitt gets her 1000th career win, the first coach in either men's or women's basketball to reach that mark.

2009: The WNBA signs a contract with ESPN which agrees to pay rights fees to teams. This is the first.Yasm

Levels of Competition

High School

High School basketball differs throughout the United States. Some high schools have four quarters and some have halves. In general they play at least thirty minutes of basketball. High schools do not usually play as long as colleges but there are exceptions. High school basketball is not as popular as college or professional but it is just as fun to watch because young people are getting better and better.


Women's college basketball remains very popular throughout North America, with the sport being sponsored by all of the major college athletic associations: the NCAA, the NAIA, the NJCAA, the NCCAA and the CIS.

Division I of the NCAA is considered the highest level of college competition, with the winner of the annual NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship game declared 'national champion.'

The current (2008-09) national champion is the University of Connecticut Huskies.

American Professional Leagues

Women's Pro Basketball League

The Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL) was a professional women's basketball league in the United States. The league played three seasons from the fall of 1978 to the spring of 1981. The league is generally considered to be the first American professional women's basketball league to be founded.

Women's Basketball Association

The Women's Basketball Association (WBA) was a professional women's basketball league in the United States. The league played three seasons from the summer of 1993 to the summer of 1995. The league is considered to be the first American professional women's basketball league to be successful as a SUMMER league, like the WNBA.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION 1993 - 1996[Played three full seasons with plans to play as a 12-team league in 1997, disbanded before 1997 season]

A summer league formed in 1992, the WBA played a 15-game schedule and games were broadcast on Liberty Sports of Dallas. When FOX Sports purchased Liberty Sports and the WBA, they disbanded the league.

1993 WBAAMERICAN CONFERENCE W L Pct. GBNebraska Express 13 2 .867 ..Missouri Mustangs 10 5 .667 3Oklahoma Cougars 3 12 .200 10

WORLD CONFERENCE W L Pct. GBKansas Crusaders 10 5 .667 ..Iowa Unicorns 5 10 .333 5Illinois Knights 4 11 .267 6

MVP: Sarah Campbell

WBA FIRST ROUNDIowa 119, Missouri 103Missouri 98, Iowa 93Missouri 117, Iowa 112 (OT)

Kansas 92, Oklahoma 77,Kansas 114, Oklahoma 64

Nebraska 166, Illinois 129Nebraska 127, Illinois 115

WBA SECOND ROUNDKansas 121, Missouri 97Kansas 109, Missouri 99

WBA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIESKansas 125, Nebraska 119Nebraska 118, Kansas 100Kansas 111, Nebraska 96Kansas 100, Nebraska 98(*KANSAS: FIRST WBA CHAMPIONS)

MVP: Robelyn (Robbie) Garcia

1994 WBAAMERICAN CONFERENCE W L Pct. GBNebraska Express 10 5 .667 5Indiana Stars 8 7 .533 7Oklahoma Flames 3 12 .200 12Iowa Twisters 1 14 .067 14

NATIONAL CONFERENCE W L Pct. GBKansas City Mustangs 15 0 1.000 ..Memphis Blues 10 5 .667 5St. Louis River Queens 9 6 .600 6Kansas Marauders 4 11 .267 11MVP: Evette Ott, Sarah Campbell

WBA FIRST ROUNDMemphis 126, St. Louis 111Memphis 122, St. Louis 110

Indiana 107, Oklahoma 91Indiana 103, Oklahoma 91

WBA SECOND ROUNDKansas City 98, Memphis 94Memphis 101, Kansas City 87(winner determined by total points - Memphis 195, Kansas City 185)

Nebraska 99, Indiana 89Nebraska 91, Indiana 87

WBA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIESMemphis 102, Nebraska 101Nebraska 123, Memphis 108Memphis 138, Nebraska 128Nebraska 111, Memphis 101Nebraska 103, Memphis 101

MVP: Maurtice (Tice) Ivy

1995 WBAAmerican Conference W L Pct. GBChicago Twisters 15 1 .938 ..Nebraska Express 6 9 .400 8.5Minnesota Stars 5 10 .333 9.5Oklahoma Flames 5 10 .333 9.5

National Conference W L Pct. GBSt. Louis RiverQueens 9 7 .562 ..Kansas City Mustangs 7 8 .467 1.5Kentucky Marauders 7 8 .467 1.5Memphis Blues 7 8 .467 1.5

WBA CHAMPIONSHIP29 July l995 Chicago 107, St. Louis 96

WBA Photos, WBA references

American Basketball League

The American Basketball League was founded in 1996 during an increase in the interest in the sport following the 1996 Summer Olympics. The league played two full season (1996-97 and 1997-98) and started a third (1998-99) before it folded on December 22, 1998.

All Star Cards:WBA - 1995 - 20 1994 - 1995 All-Star Team 1 1994 All-Stars 2 Lisa Braddy 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 3 Sarah Campbell 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 4 Lisa Carlsen 1.00 Nebraska Express 5 Joy Champ 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 6 Cledella Evans 1.00 Oklahoma Flames 7 Crystal Flint 1.00 Rookie 8 Robbie Garcia 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 9 Kay Kay Hart 1.00 Iowa Twisters 10 Petra Jackson 1.00 St. Louis River Queens 11 Patrice Marshall 1.00 Oklahoma Flames 12 Evette Ott 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 13 Lynn Page 1.00 Oklahoma Flames 14 Lisa Sandbothe 1.00 St. Louis River Queens 15 Danielle Shareef 1.00 Kansas City Mustangs 16 Lisa Tate 1.00 Rookie 17 Kiana Vines 1.00 Indiana Stars 18 Tammy Williams 1.00 Indiana Stars 19 Cynthia Wilson 1.00 Rookie NN Lightning Mitchell 1.00 League Director


The Women's National Basketball Association or WNBA is an organization governing a professional basketball league for women in the United States. The WNBA was formed in 1996 as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association, and league play began in 1997. The regular WNBA season is June to September (North American Spring and Summer). Most WNBA teams play at the same venue as their NBA counterparts. Most team names are also very similar to those of NBA teams in the same market, such as the Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx.

Officially approved by the NBA Board of Governors on April 24, 1996, the creation of the WNBA was first announced at a press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes in attendance. While not the first major women's professional basketball league in the United States (a distinction held by the defunct WBL), the WNBA is the only league to receive full backing of the NBA.

On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to much fanfare. The league began with eight teams. The first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles and was televised nationally, in the United States, on the NBC television network. At the start of the 1997 season, the WNBA had television deals in place with NBC, ESPN and Lifetime Television Network.

The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each of the 13 teams play a 34-game regular season schedule, beginning in June and ending in mid September. The four teams in each conference with the best Win/Loss records go on to compete in the WNBA Playoffs during September with the WNBA Finals in early October.

An All-Star Game is typically held in the middle of July, while regular play stops temporarily for it. In Olympic years, there is no all-star game, but a break of about five weeks in the middle of the WNBA season allows players to participate in the Olympic games as members of their national teams.

There have been a total of 18 teams in WNBA history. A total of 5 teams have folded: the Charlotte Sting, the Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets, the Miami Sol and the Portland Fire. Two other teams, the Utah Starzz and the Orlando Miracle moved, to San Antoniomarker (Silver Stars) and Uncasville, Connecticutmarker (Sun) respectively.

International basketball

Though it was originally an American sport, it quickly spread internationally and outstanding players and teams are found today all over the world. Women's basketball leagues now exist in most countries around the world including Australia, Asia, South America, and Europe.


Women's basketball has been contested in the Summer Olympics since 1976. The Olympic gold medalists for women's basketball are:

  • 1976 - USSR
  • 1980 - USSR
  • 1984 - USA
  • 1988 - USA
  • 1992 - Unified Team
  • 1996 - USA
  • 2000 - USA
  • 2004 - USA
  • 2008 - USA

Additional International Competitions

In addition to the Olympics and FIBA World Championship for Women, women's basketball is also contested in the Pan American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Women's basketball made its first appearance at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Basketball (for both men and women) is one of the sports that the host nation of the Island Games may select for competition.

Women also compete in wheelchair basketball in the Paralympic Games

Non-American Professional Leagues

Women's English Basketball League

The Women's English Basketball League has grown steadily over recent years, and has now reached a level of thirty national league sides. The league is split into two levels. Division 1 is as close to professional as women's sport gets in the United Kingdom, with teams such as Rhondda Rebels and Sheffield Hatters bringing in players from the USA and Europe. The Nottingham Wildcats make up the trio of clubs that helped establish the women's league and remain amongst the top three or four places. The gap between these top teams and the rest of the league has remained, but gradually as the women's game has developed, the gulf in results has been reduced, and each year there have been more competitive games.

Promotion from Division 2 has always re-enforced the gap between the two leagues, as the winner of the Division 2 promotion play-offs has found the step-up difficult. The Division 2 play-offs take the top four teams from the North and South of the Second Divisions, with the top playing the bottom of the other pool. This year (2006/7) saw several new teams join the second division, showing the continual growth of the women's game. These included the SevenOaks Suns, Enfield Phoenix, Taunton Tigers and Bristol Storm.

Women's National Basketball League

The Women's National Basketball League was founded in 1981 as a way for the best women's basketball teams in the various Australian States to compete against each other on a regular basis. Today the WNBL is the premiere women's basketball league in Australia.

Rules and equipment

The modern rules for women's basketball become more similar to men's each year (though many women have used the same rules as men from the beginning). Today women's basketball is played with the same rules as men with only one exception, mainly a slightly smaller ball, although some players and coaches would prefer to use the same size ball.

Basketball size

The regulation WNBA ball is a minimum 28.5 inches (72.4 cm) in circumference, which is 1.00 inch (2.54 cm) smaller than the NBA ball. As of 2004, this size is used for all senior-level women's competitions worldwide.

Court dimensions

The standard court size is 94 feet long by 50 feet wide. The three-point line is 20 feet and 6.25 inches (6.25 m) from the middle of the basket in WNBA and FIBA competition. Also, there is no block/charge arc under the basket, although that is expected to change as the FIBA's 2010 rules move the three-point line to 6.75 meters (22 feet, 1.7 inches) and create a 1.25 meter (4 feet, 1 inch) block/charge arc..

Shot clock

The WNBA shot clock was recently changed from 30 to 24 seconds, which has been in FIBA play since 2000. Women's NCAA college basketball uses a 30 second shot clock.

Game clock

Most high school and college games are played in two 20-minute halves, while WNBA and FIBA games are played in four 10-minute quarters.

See also


  1. NCAA Women's Basketball, access date 24 Jan
  2. Playing With The Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal In Sports
  3. [1], access date 23 February, 2008
  4. [2], access date 23 February, 2008

External links

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