Henry V. Porter

Equipment inventor, rule maker, high school coach, and athletic administrator, Henry Porter’s innovations were vital to the evolution of basketball. In 1933, Porter designed the fan-shaped backboard, adopted for official use in 1940-41. In 1935, he pushed for replacement of the cumbersome 32-inch sewn leather ball with a 29.5-inch molded leather basketball. Under his leadership, high schools adopted the new ball in 1938, and later in the 1940s, adopted an even better composite-molded basketball. In 1936, Porter published the first high school rulebook standardizing the game across the nation. Served as the first representative for high schools on the National Basketball Rules Committee. In 1940, Porter became the first full-time executive secretary and editor of publications at the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations. Published the first high school rule book in 1936 and the first magazine-style state high school association publication, The Illinois Athlete. In March of 1939, the Illinois High School Association journal coined the phrase “March Madness” to describe the excitement generated by the Illinois state high school tournament. Porter further evoked the excitement with a poem he wrote in 1942, The Basketball Ides of March. Pioneered the use of motion pictures to study proper playing techniques.