“A New Sports Game for Young Women”
As you sports history buffs might know, basketball is one of the few sports in which men’s and women’s versions developed simultaneously. Women started playing basketball about a year after the game was invented in the late 1890s, and, as this photo of Smith College’s 1903 women’s basketball team demonstrates, the new sport had decidely positive effects on young ladies. “Le basket-ball,” exclaims the article from La Vie Heureuse, is “an ingenious conversion of soccer into a sport made possible for women.” Indeed, there had been a shortage of aerobic possibilities for the fairer sex: “Golf is a promenade, and tennis is relatively calm,” notes the author. “There was a desire for an exercise that really developed muscle…” Finally, a solution was discovered, that softened version of soccer, “le Basket-ball.” And the rest is history… or not quite… Les Françaises, never did, as this author seemed to have hoped, throw themselves into the game along with the British ahd American coeds pictured, despite these highly compelling images.