9th February 1895: Volleyball invented by William G. Morgan

Hello, and welcome to HistoryPod. On 9 February 1895, volleyball was invented
by William G. Morgan, the Director of Physical Education at the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Morgan had attended the YMCA’s Springfield
College where he had met James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. After graduating Morgan continued to work
for the YMCA and soon took the position of Director of Physical Education in nearby Holyoke. Having noticed that the speed of basketball
made it too challenging for weaker men and older athletes, Morgan set about devising
a new game. Drawing on basketball’s original aims of
being a sport that could be played inside with minimal physical contact, Morgan later
wrote that ‘tennis occurred to me, but this required rackets, balls, a net and other equipment,
so it was eliminated – but the idea of a net seemed a good one.’ Naming his game ‘mintonette’, Morgan took
a year to refine the rules before staging an exhibition match at the 1896 YMCA Physical
Directors Conference at Springfield, after impressing the director of the professional
physical education training school, Dr. Luther Gulick. The game received a positive reception from
the delegates including Dr. Alfred T. Halstead who suggested renaming it to Volley Ball to
better reflect the objective of the game. After the positive response to the exhibition
game Morgan continued to experiment with the rules, firstly by raising the height of the
net and then by trying different types of balls to achieve the optimum weight and speed. Sporting goods company A.G. Spalding & Bros.
eventually created a new type of ball that achieved the perfect balance he was seeking
and, within just a few years, Morgan’s game had begun to spread around the world.

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