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State Historian Corrects Date of First Indiana Basketball Game

Historian Chandler Lighty says he found documentation of basketball games played before 1894.

For the past 75 years, many Hoosiers thought the first Indiana basketball game was played at a YMCA in the small town of Crawfordsville in 1894.

A historian at the Indiana State library's digital newspaper program says he's discovered that's not true.

Chandler Lighty says during his work digitizing Indiana newspaper archives, he found documentation of basketball games played before 1894, including one in Indianapolis in 1893, one in Evansville in 1892 and a handful of others in Columbus, Connersville and Bloomington, where the sport was incorporated into students' physical education classes.

But Lighty says many Hoosiers still think basketball originated in the state's rural areas.

"What I've found really turns that on its head because it seems basketball was showing up in urban areas first," Lighty says. "That's maybe a counter-narrative to a lot of Hoosiers and their identity, what they want to believe about Hoosiers."

Lighty is from Crawfordsville, so he says it's a little disappointing to know the state's first basketball game wasn't there, but he'd rather Hoosiers know the true history of the sport.

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