History of 6-on-6 Basketball

In honor of attending the 100th IGHSAU’s Girls State Basketball Championships this weekend, here is a brief look at how 6-on-6 basketball began.

Iowa 6-on-6 basketball originated in Dubuque in 1898. The rules of the game were transformed by the National Committee of Women’s Basketball in 1899 after a year of playing by 5-on-5 standards. 6-on-6 basketball was competitive, fast-paced and encouraged physical play among all players. The sport’s popularity grew statewide and in 1920, 24 teams of girls competed in the first girls’ basketball state tournament.

A few years later, the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) decided sports were not fit for girls, so 6-on-6 basketball was almost completely eliminated until the Iowa girls high School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) was formed. Girls’ basketball continued to grow, and by the 1950s, more than 70% of all Iowa girls played 6-on-6 basketball.

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX which aimed to give equal treatment to men and women in schools. This law allowed girls to play in all sports by 1975, but unfortunately also ended 6-on-6 basketball. Although it may be gone, 6-on-6 basketball will always be remembered as the game that gave over 1 million girls the opportunity to play competitive sports and will forever remain a legacy in the state of Iowa.

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