Basketball in Germany

Basketball is a popular sport in Germany, and is played on both the amateur and professional levels. Basketball has a long history in Germany, with its popularity having developed slowly. Today, basketball is one of the most popular sports in Germany.[1]

Basketball in Germany
Governing bodyGerman Basketball Federation
National team(s)Germany
First played1896
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions


Basketball was first introduced to Germany in 1896, by August Hermann, a physical education pioneer. Hermann's son Ernst had emigrated to Boston and introduced the game of basketball to his father. Originally, Hermann was searching for a sport for girls to play as an alternative to soccer.[2][3] August held the first game in Germany in the city of Braunschweig where he was a well-known advocate and instructor of physical education and sports. Thereafter, he invented a number of sports and wrote rule books. He wrote the rule book for "Korbball" (basketball) that same year. He adopted the name Korbball because at the time, American expressions and names were frowned upon. Hermann was a board member of the "Central Committee on Public and Youth Games in Germany" and in this capacity, he attempted to publicize the game of basketball for girls. Despite these efforts, basketball didn't take hold until several decades later. In 1921, basketball was included in the guidelines for physical education for girls, but only a few schools participated. Because of the lack of participation and lack of sport association affiliation, basketball had no significant following. Basketball developed very slowly.[2] Germany was one of the last countries in Europe to adopt basketball as a major sport.[4]

Increase in popularityEdit

In 1933, Hermann Niebuhr—who had become involved with basketball at an American college in Istanbul—returned to Germany and re-introduced basketball to several universities and sports clubs. Niebuhr is considered the "Father of German Basketball." As a result of implementing basketball at universities in Munich, Breslau, Gera, Wünsdorf and Bad Kreuznach, foreign students began to play.[5] Foreign students and German physical instructors were either from the United States or had traveled to the United States and saw basketball games there. These were the first to request increasing basketball's presence. In 1935, basketball became an organized sport. In April 1935 there were four organized basketball teams in Germany and that increased to 153 by 1937.[2] The first national basketball championships were organized in 1939.[citation needed]

Berlin OlympicsEdit

In 1936, the International Olympic Committee included basketball as an official medal event. The 1936 Summer Olympics were held in Berlin. Though the basketball games were played outdoors in poor conditions, there was significant media coverage of the sport in Germany.[6] Germany placed 17th out of 21 teams.

1936 Germany Olympic basketball resultsEdit

  • Germany lost to Switzerland 25-18
  • Germany beat Spain via a walkover as Spain withdrew from Olympics due to the Spanish Civil War
  • Germany lost to Italy 58 - 16
  • Germany lost to Czechoslovakia 20-9[7]

Members of the German Olympic TeamEdit

Despite increased interest in the sport during the late 1930s, World War II stopped all development of basketball in Germany.

New beginning following World War IIEdit

Following World War II, the United States government sent the Harlem Globetrotters to Germany in 1951 to help counter communism. The game drew 75,000 spectators which set a world record for the largest crowd to watch a basketball game.[8] Although The International Basketball Federation (French: Fédération Internationale de Basketball or FIBA) was created in 1932, Germany was not one of the first eight European teams. Germany's first appears in the European Championships was in 1951 in Paris. They placed 15th out of 18 teams.[9] In 1956, the International Basketball Federation (French: Fédération Internationale de Basketball or FIBA) was relocated to Munich from Geneva.[10]

Deutscher Basketball BundEdit

The German Basketball Federation, or Deutscher Basketball Bund, was founded in 1949.

The BundesligaEdit

The German Basketball League (the Basketball-Bundesliga, or BBL) was created in 1964. On 1 October 1966, the first season began.[11] This is the highest level tier of professional club basketball competition in Germany. It currently has 18 teams, competing for the national champion title.[9]

American basketball connectionEdit

There is a strong American connection and many of the German teams recruit players from American universities. There are also many Germans who are recruited to play at the college level and in the National Basketball Association, or NBA.[9]

Notable people associated with Germany basketballEdit

Notable German basketball playersEdit


  1. ^ Christian Nordqvist (29 November 2018). "Most popular sports in Germany". Market Business News. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Bösing, Lothar; Bauer, Christia; Remmert, Hubert; Lau, Andreas (2012). Handbuch Basketball (In German). Meyer & Meyer Sport. ISBN 978-3-89899-728-7.
  3. ^ Hoffmeister, Kurt (2010). Zeitreise durch die Braunschweiger Sportgeschichte (In German). Books on Demand; Auflage: 1. ISBN 978-3-83910-712-6.
  4. ^ Cunningham, Carson (2006). American Hoops: The History of United States Olympic Basketball from Berlin to Barcelona (Thesis). Purdue University.
  5. ^ Julia Mahr (2004). "German and American sport: a comparison. Basketball in America and Germany". Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  6. ^ John Jeansonne (20 June 2012). "Sport-by-sport Olympic capsules". Newsday. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b "I Olympic Basketball Tournament (Berlin 1936) Game Details". Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  8. ^ Reiss, Steven A. (2011). Sports in America from Colonial Times to the Twenty-First Century. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-1706-4.
  9. ^ a b c "Basketball in Germany?". German Missions in the United States. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  10. ^ "FIBA History". The International Basketball Federation. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Archiv des Deutschen Basketball-Bundes e.V. (German)" (PDF). University of Archival Science - Marburg. January 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2019.

External linksEdit