By Nancy Steinbach


Our VOA listener question this week comes in an e-mail from China.The listener asks about the sport of basketball.

Organized basketball involves two teams of five players each. The players score points by throwing a large round ball into a raised goal called a basket. One basket is at each end of the playing area, or court.Players may move the ball toward the basket only by bouncing it on the floor or passing it to another team member. Each team also tries to prevent the other team from scoring. The team that scores the most points is the winner.

James Naismith invented the game of basketball in Eighteen-Ninety-One.He was a physical education teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts. He wanted to create a team sport that could be played indoors during the winter.

People immediately enjoyed basketball's excitement and fast action.In just a few years, both men and women were playing basketball at schools and sports centers throughout North America. It became so popular that people started paying money to watch basketball games. American soldiers took the game to Europe during World War One.

In Nineteen-Thirty-Six, basketball became part of the competition at the Olympic Games. About the same time, college basketball was becoming a major national sport in the United States. The best college players went on to play for professional teams.

That is still true today. Hundreds of American colleges and universities have men's and women's basketball teams. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a group of colleges and universities that takes part in organized sports programs.

The N-C-A-A men's championship is decided by a series of games played at the end of the season. This series takes place in the month of March and is known as "March Madness." The number of teams was expanded this year from sixty-four to sixty-five.

They will continue to play until one team has won all its games and is declared the champion. "March Madness" this year began last week. It will continue until the final game is played in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April second.