In which year did women's basketball make its debut in the Olympics?
Women's basketball began in the fall of 1892 at Smith College. Senda Berenson, recently hired as a young "physical culture" director at Smith, taught basketball to her students, hoping the activity would improve their physical health.
Nineteenth-century Victorian culture stressed the frailty of women and prioritized the status of women in the home, and Berenson expressed concern about the women suffering from "nervous fatigue" if games were too strenuous for them. In order to keep it acceptable for women to play at all within Victorian ideals of refinement and gentility, she taught modified rules. She increased participation to nine players per team, and the court was divided into three areas.
Early basketball was played with peach baskets and soccer balls, similarly to the men's game, but women's uniforms again reflected the Victorian culture of the times and were designed to be practical, yet maintain the woman athlete's dignity and femininity.
The popularity of women's basketball grew steadily around the world for decades. By the 1970s, the sport had attracted the notice the International Olympic Committee, which added women's basketball as an official sport of the Olympic Games in 1976. America's first professional basketball league for women was founded in 1978 as the Women's Basketball League.