Every four years, the Olympics catch the eye of the entire nation. Wearing red, white, and blue, we come together to cheer for athletes representing the USA. Asphalt Green knows the ins and outs of the summer Olympic sports—we offer programs for them year-round. Need a refresher? Our spectator guides will tell you everything you need to know (and make you sound really smart at watch parties).  


Origin of the sport: Basketball was created in 1891 in Springfield, Mass., by Dr. James Naismith to keep athletes in shape during the winter months. The goal was to throw a ball into a fruit basket attached to a gym balcony. Today, it is one of the world’s most popular sports; 400 million people play around the world. It was added to the summer Olympics in 1936.


General rules:

  • Two teams play with five people on the court at a time. One game consists of four 10-minute quarters.
  • The object of the game is to shoot the ball in the hoop. Depending on the distance from the hoop, a basket is worth two or three points. The team with the most points at the end of regulation wins the game.
  • Players advance the ball with their hands by dribbling and passing to their teammates.
  • When a player is fouled while shooting, he or she is granted free throws—amount depends on spot of the foul—which are worth one point each. When a foul occurs any other time, the ball is put back in play from out of bounds.
  • If a player commits five fouls, he or she is disqualified for the remainder of the match. 


US athletes to watch for:

  • The men’s national team has not lost a game since 2006 and looks to Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony to lead the team to gold. Durant is coming off a great run leading his team to the conference finals, and Anthony is one of the team’s veterans and the US basketball team’s all-time leading scorer.  
  • The women are equally as dominant. The team has not lost an Olympic game since 1992. Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird form an unstoppable dynamic duo in the backcourt. Many consider Taurasi to be the best female player ever, and Bird is a seven-time WNBA All-Star.


When to tune in:

  • Men: Semifinals begin Friday, August 19; finals, Sunday, August 21
  • Women: Semifinal play begins Thursday, August 19; finals, Saturday, August 20


More Olympics Coverage: 

Spectator Guide: Volleyball

Spectator Guide: Soccer

Spectator Guide: Swimming