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THE INSIDE TRACK | NOW YOU KNOW

May 23, 1997|HOUSTON MITCHELL

Why are college basketball games played in halves and NBA games in quarters?

When James Naismith invented basketball, he decided the game should consist of two 15-minute halves. Geneva College, in 1892, became the first school to organize a team, and several universities followed. They adopted Naismith's rules, including the 15-minute halves. Eventually, the time was extended to 20 minutes per half.

One of the first pro leagues, the Basketball Assn. of America, was formed in the 1940s by a group of hockey-team owners who wanted to have a use for their stadiums when the hockey teams were on the road.

With two 20-minute haves, most games ended in an hour. Hockey fans who came out to watch basketball were used to hockey's three 20-minute periods, which meant almost two hours of entertainment, including intermissions. The fans complained, and the owners amended the rules to four 12-minute quarters.

Why not two 24-minute halves? The owners also realized that three intermissions meant two extra trips to the concession stands.

After two years, the BAA merged with a smaller league and became the NBA.

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