Women’s Basketball in the 1920s

Photo Credit: 1927 Genevan Yearbook, McCartney Library, Geneva College

Photo Credit: 1927 Genevan Yearbook, McCartney Library, Geneva College

In 1892, the first women’s basketball team was established at Smith College, but the first intercollegiate basketball game was played by Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley campus.  This game opened doors for women to be able to play basketball if not against other colleges then recreationally.  It was thought that women were not physically capable of playing sports that males could play.  So physical education teacher, Senda Berenson of Smith College studied this new sport of basketball and changed the rules of the game a bit to make the game more accessible to women.

Berenson wanted women’s basketball to represent friendship and socialization.  The teammates have to work together and communicate to win points.  She developed a game for women that was not as rough like the men’s version as well as changing the rules on holding, snatching the ball, and traveling.  She also ruled that players set to certain positions could not leave their set court.  These rules she developed would stick to the game of basketball until minor modifications were done in the 1960s.

This page is from the 1927 Genevan Yearbook and contains a photo, description, and scores from the 1926-1927 women’s basketball season.  They had a successful year with only two losses for the season.  The bottom of the paragraph explains that the 1927 women’s basketball team is the last time Geneva College will have an intercollegiate team.  It states that “the ‘glory that was Geneva Girls’ Team’ is gone forever. For this was the last year for girls’ inter-collegiate basketball…”

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