It’s been nearly 119 years since James Naismith wrote down 13 rules for a new game he devised as a way to give youths at a Massachusetts YMCA an athletic activity to keep them busy in the winter.
On Dec 10, those rules – considered “the birth certificate of one of the world’s most popular sports” – will be put up for auction in New York and are expected to bring in at least $2 million (£1.3 million). The proceeds are to go to the Naismith International Basketball Foundation, which promotes sportsmanship and provides services to underprivileged youths around the world.
Ian Naismith, the foundation’s founder and grandson of James Naismith, said it was a family decision to put the rules on the auction block and give the money to the Naismith charity.
“We need to take the money and work the money back into kids,” Ian Naismith told The Associated Press. “We call it recycling. With the economy going south the last couple of years, my stroke, my wife passing away, it was more important to me to have the game go back into the kids. It’s what Dr. Naismith wanted.”
James Naismith penned the 13 rules on Dec. 21, 1891, while he was a physical education instructor at a YMCA training school. His boss had given him two weeks to come up with a new indoor activity for his gym class, and he wrote down the rules on the eve of that deadline.
He gave the list to his secretary, who typed them up on two pages that Naismith pinned on a bulletin board outside the gym.