Why Are Basketball Players Called Cagers? ( Interesting Fact About This Popular Term Used In The Game Of Basketball!)

Last Updated on October 28, 2023 by Alex PT

The term “cager” is a slang term for a basketball player. It is thought to have originated in the early days of the sport when basketball courts were often enclosed in cages to prevent the ball from going into the street. The term is first recorded in 1894 and was popularized by sportswriters in the early 1900s.

This table below is well constructed to show you every detail of dates when different changes were made in the game of basketball.

When was the cage used in the game of basketball? 1896-1930
When was the out of bound rules established?1902s
When was the gymnasium used for playing basketball games?1940s

Why Are Basketball Players Called Cagers?

The term “cager” is a slang term for a basketball player. It is thought to have originated in the early days of the sport when basketball courts were often enclosed in cages to prevent the ball from going into the street.

The first recorded use of the term “cager” in the context of basketball was in an 1894 article in the Springfield Republican newspaper. The article described a game between the Springfield YMCA and the New York Athletic Club, and it referred to the players as “cagers.”

The term “cager” quickly became popular among sportswriters and fans. It was used in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States, and it was even used by the National Basketball Association (NBA) in its early years.

The term “cager” is less common today than it was in the past. However, it is still used by some sportswriters and fans, especially in the context of the history of the sport.

Here are some reasons why the term “cager” may have become popular in the early days of basketball:

  • Basketball courts were often enclosed in cages, which made the players look like they were trapped in cages.
  • Basketball players are known for their athleticism and agility, which can be compared to the movements of a caged animal.
  • Basketball is a competitive sport, and the term “cager” can be seen as a way to describe the players’ toughness and determination.

Regardless of the reason for its popularity, the term “cager” is a reminder of the early days of basketball, when the sport was still evolving and gaining popularity.

Basketball’s Compelling Origin

A Canadian man called James Naismith invented the game of basketball. In the late 1800s, Naismith worked at the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA Training School as a physical education instructor. As a physical education instructor, he was in search of activities that could help people use all of their bodies. Cardiovascular exercises were pretty well understood in this period, which permitted Naismith’s concept to work perfectly. So he thought about how men would play to get balls into a basket. His concept was exciting and it brought about an exciting game that was widely accepted and loved. After a while, just a few years after the game had been invented, the game began to grow in popularity to the extent that a professional league with professionals in the sport took to the court. A mark was made in 1896 when the very first professional game was played in Trenton, New Jersey. There’s a funny thing you should know here, the court that the professionals used was in a social hall that was enclosed in something like a cage. This was truly where it all began! The cage had wire-mesh fencing along the sidelines and end with a height of 12 feet.

How Did The “Cagers” Term Come To Be?

A lot of people wanted the game to have been involved a long time ago even if the first professional basketball game was played in a cage. Yet the rules for the game by Naismith were made around the only playing facility which was available. Not every court played on was the same even if it would be considered insane today. Some were smaller or bigger than the other. These court size varieties made life a bit difficult for some basketball players since they had to adapt to the different sizes of the court the played on. Also, these courts were sometimes tight fits for some players since they all had cages.

The Birth Of The New Basketball

Fortunately, in today’s world, some specific guidelines have to be followed by every NBA team on how they must have their courts installed. These guidelines especially include the color of the court’s flooring and most importantly the size of the court itself. The high school and college teams are not exempted from these guidelines, they all have to abide by the court size rules. Today, all the rules and regulations of college or high school basketball are overseen by various state organizations and majorly the NCAA. For their part, the NCAA is the one who ensures that basketball courts are the same size in all colleges and high schools and they also run a lot of college material in terms of sports. The presence of the court gave the fans the option to get closer. Spectators can now sit much closer to the court. Shaq used to run into the courtside seats today are not inches close to what we are saying here.

The Game Of Basketball Evolving

A rule that states that “the ball belongs to team A to gain possession if it gets out of bounds from team B” was used in the first decades of this classic sport. What this means is that teams A and B could fight for the ball. However, fans or spectators could get injured without a cage to keep them safe from the brawling and wrestling action of the players. Another funny thing is that the rules had the cage positioned high enough to prevent the ball from escaping out of the court. Meaning that the “out of bounds rule” was meaningless. In 1902, the rule was eventually abolished which led to the end of brawling and wrestling action in the game of basketball. Also, it means the cage was no longer required. However, but the cages have not been removed any longer from the game since players still love to bounce the ball of the walls of the cage. Longer than anyone could imagine, the game remained inside a cage, which is very obvious why people call these players “cagers”. Players enjoy the game even more and it becomes more exciting to them since the ball will never get out of bounds. The ball only gets back to them after bouncing off the cage. This concept was even made easier with the replacement of wire mesh with rope netting.

When Everything Changed

The cage had to go even if players loved it. In the 1920s, cages were scarcely used in the game of basketball but some countries still played the game in cages into the 1930s. One funny thing you should know is that outside the Northeast, the cages were never really used for basketball games, even by high schools or even colleges. The original reason for the name “cager” was eventually forgotten by most. Most players even thought the cage was built to keep them away from the fans as if they were like some animals in cages. But to be honest, back in those early days of basketball, it was very violent.

There were no rules against smashing or pushing someone against the cage during the gameplay, which led to fighting and brawling, and to make it worse, the home team fans joined the fight. During the early stages of basketball, a lot of unsportsmanlike activities from fouling to double dribbling were permitted. Double dribbling, with both hands on the ball, had also been permitted in those times. A powerful basketball player can make their way down the court by bouncing the ball and also getting it with both hands following every bounce while backing into opponents en route. But during the 1920s and 1930s, rules were drastically modified. Therefore, gyms were the places where basketball games were played in the early 1940s.

The Emergence Of NBA And ABA

Both college and professional games were played in courts primarily owned by local colleges or by the city or town. After a while, ABA and NBA were the two professional leagues that began so popular and prominent, which led to owners getting involved and stadiums and courts were specially built for each of their respective teams. Nowadays, cages are completed at each level of the organized sport we all know as basketball. The word “cagers” for describing basketball players is not even that popular anymore. This is because the generation that knew much about the weird name has almost passed away.

Final Words

The recognition of “cagers” couldn’t be overlooked by several. This led to fascinating choices being made. Several cities throughout the United States proceeded to make basketball courts at apartment complexes as well as next to facilities and also at neighborhood public parks. We’ve come to the end of this informative article. We hope you now know why basketball players are called cagers. We would love to entertain questions and comments from you. Do not hesitate if you have any!



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