Basketball is an athletic sport, usually played on an indoor court in which two competing teams of five players each attempt to score by throwing an inflated ball so that it descends through one of two baskets suspended, at each end of the court, above their heads. The team scoring the most such throws, through field goals or foul shots, wins the game. Because of its continuous action and frequent scoring, basketball is one of the most popular spectator as well as participant sports in the world.
Court and Teams
The measurements of American and international basketball courts differ slightly. The basketball court is a rectangular area ranging in size from about 94 ft by 50 ft to about 74 ft by 42 ft. At each end of the court is a vertical backboard, measuring usually about 6 ft by 4 ft. Each backboard is anchored to a wall, suspended from the ceiling, or otherwise mounted so that its lower edge is about 9 ft above the court.
Backboards originated to keep spectators from interfering with the game. The baskets are attached firmly to the backboards about 10 ft above the playing surface. Each basket is about 18 inches in diameter and consists of a horizontal hoop, or metal ring, from which a fringe of wide-meshed white netting is hung. The regulation basketball is an inflated, leather- or nylon-covered sphere that weighs from 20 to 22 oz and has a circumference of about 30 in.
A conventional basketball team, which is directed by a coach, is made up of two forwards, two guards, and a center. At the beginning of play, called the opening jump, the forwards of one team are stationed in the forecourt--that is, the half of the playing area containing the basket at which their team is...