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Naismith family sells rules of basketball 

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Ian Naismith, the grandson of Dr. James Naismith, had told me he was going to sell the rules to basketball.

And he did.

‘‘For $4.3 million,’’ he said after the auction Friday. ‘‘After expenses, about $3.8 million will go into the Naismith International Basketball Foundation. Man, I am so tired.’’

The rules were bought by David and Suzanne Booth. The couple — David is a University of Kansas alum — wants to bring the rules to Kansas for display.

Just two simple pages, typed by Dr. Naismith’s secretary at his behest exactly 119 years ago.

How they reverberate across the globe!

Ian had taken me into the vault of a Chicago bank years ago and shown me the yellowed pieces of paper.

‘‘My grandfather did this,’’ he said proudly.

One day, there was not basketball. The next day, there was. There was no evolution.

Basketball was a meteor.

I looked at the pages with awe and amusement. How many thousands of hours had I, my joint-damaged self, spent playing Dr. Naismith’s addictive game!

Dr. Naismith had invented the new sport so rowdy and bored YMCA kids would have something to do indoors in wintertime.

From that has come LeBron, Yao and Planet Basketball.

Ian sold the rules because the burden of ownership was too much. Like Frodo and the one ring.

‘‘I’m tired of all the lying,’’ a clearly exhausted Naismith told me. ‘‘Coaches making $5 million a year? The game is about integrity, sportsmanship. People don’t seem to remember that. The proceeds should fund the foundation all the way through, help get our message out about fair play.

‘‘But the game now is being hurt by money. Nobody ever has enough.’’

Ian, 71, suffered a stroke a few years back. He lost his wife not long ago. He is, as he says, tired. And now the famous rules belong to someone else.

He and his family have this, though: ‘‘We gave the game to the world.’’

◆ NOT SURE IF anybody noticed, but the graduation rate for black football players in bowl games went from 58 percent last year to 60 percent this year, according to a report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

That’s nice, but white bowl players (there are 70 teams this year in a record 35 bowls) graduate at an 80 percent rate.

The disparity is being worked on, no doubt, but if you think it’s really important in the win-it-all world of big-time, entertainment-driven college football, think again.

According to the report, the African-American-laden University of Miami football team, playing in the Sun Bowl this year, is tied with Notre Dame for the best combined graduation and retention rate in the land. A wondrous, remarkable turnaround from the old days.

So how was Miami head coach Randy Shannon, an African American himself, rewarded?

He was fired.

Diplomas? We don’t need no stinkin’ diplomas!

Dude didn’t win enough.

◆ IT’S GETTING near Christmas, and here is what I wish for: I want TCU to be happy in its new conference, the Big East.

That several opponents, such as Connecticut and Syracuse, are nearly 2,000 automobile miles away, is funny — hilarious, actually — but irrelevant. The Horned Frogs can hop with the best. Why, they were in the Mountain West last season, playing San Diego State.

No, I’m thinking of contentedness. Of peace.

TCU has been in five conferences since 1995. It’s not about the money! How dare you suggest that?

Nighty-night and sweet dreams, Frogs. Enjoy West Virginia.

◆ MILLIONAIRE URBAN MEYER, 46, resigned (again) as the head football coach at Florida on Wednesday.

He said he was burned out.

He said he never had seen his two girls play high school sports. And now they were in college.

He said, ‘‘I’m very convinced that you’re going to be judged on how you are as a husband and a father and not on how many games you’ve won.’’

Is that true?

I’ve always heard that he with the most Southeastern Conference titles wins.

I’ve always heard that on your tombstone they chisel how much money you made, then add the names of your family for future reference.

◆ IN MUMBAI, INDIA, there are 44 city-employed rat-killers.

The ratters have to kill at least 30 rats six days a week all year long.

They do it with sticks. Here, little buddy ... Wham! And then they put the deceased in sacks they carry. After that, I’m not sure.

Anyway, by my math, that’s 44 ratters at 30 rats a day times six days times, we’ll say, 51 weeks. (There must be some vacation, right? Or at least personal days?)

That comes to 403,920 rats per year. A lot.

Doesn’t seem to make a dent, though.

This might sound crazy, but this is a job I would do. For a while, definitely. I’m serious.

According to an AP story, 4,000 would-be rat-killers applied the last time Mumbai had an opening. I can understand.

Think of the fulfillment. Roving the city at night. Tiptoeing around. On high alert. Sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. Whack!

Like sportswriting.



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