Why Basketball Players Called Cagers?

Why Basketball Players Called Cagers

Basketball players were once called "cagers" because they played inside actual cages from 1896-1930, using the cage as the court in the first professional basketball game. The term "cagers" originated from the cage setting, which was eventually phased out due to the rising violence in the games, leading to rule changes and the eventual disappearance of cages in modern basketball.

Basketball players were once called “cagers”, you may not hear it very often today. People started to call every basketball player as “cagers” a long time ago, but everything has changed right now and people never use the term “cagers” for basketball players today. 

But the question is, why were basketball players called “cagers” in the past? This article will answer the question of why basketball players were called cagers. Let’s go!

Quick Answer

People used to call basketball players as cagers because players tend to play inside a cage a long time ago, they used the cage for a long time from 1896-1930. Cage was used in the first professional game of basketball. But for some logical reasons the cage needed to go.


The basketball was invented by a Canadian professor James Naismith. Naismith was a physical education teacher at Springfield Massachusetts YMCA training school in the late 1800s. .Dr. Luther Gulick gave Naismith 14 days to create a new sport that would help athletes play indoors and get in shape in winter seasons. 

The first game of basketball was played in 1891 to test the game he invented. The players played nine vs nine and used a soccer ball as their ball, and instead of using two hoops, they used a pair of peach baskets.

They started the professional game last 1896 in Treston, New Jersey. The court used as a social hall that happened to be a closed cage, this is the inception of the term “cagers”. 

How Did The “Cagers” Term Start?

The term cagers happen when the first professional game occurs inside a cage. Naismith rules for the game were made around the cage but years passed the rules have been changed a little bit. 

In today’s basketball, the size of the court size had no specific size, some courts were bigger or smaller than the other and it depends on the leagues. The cage has a standard sizing, that is why all players from the past can easily adapt the size of the court. 

Different leagues today have different court sizes, and all of them are required to follow the specific guidelines of their court. 

One reason the cages were made is to protect fans from players and vice versa. This is because there is no out of bounds rule and causes basketball players to wrestle with each other to steal the ball. The cage was a smart thing to keep fans from getting injured by the players.  

Yes, you read that right, there is no out of bounds because the ball just bounces off the cage. This made the out of bounds rule pointless. The rule was eventually changed in 1902 and completely removed the wrestling issue. This meant the cage was useless in professional leagues.  

However, players enjoyed playing in the cage and they kept playing in the cage until the 1920s. They soon changed wire mesh cages by cheaper and safer rope netting. The cage was used a long time that led to the rise of people calling basketball players “cagers”.

Unforgettable Changes

Basketball players enjoyed playing in the cage, but for some reason, it eventually had to go. Some leagues stopped using the cage in the 1920s but some leagues continue to play inside the cage until the 1930s. 

The reason why the cage was removed is that the game was incredibly violent during that period. Players smash and push other players while in their shooting motion because pushing or smashing were considered legal at that time. These unsportsmanlike plays led to brawls and fights that is why they decided to change the rule and remove the cage.

Many rules are allowed in the past that isn’t allowed today like double dribbling, out of bounds, and fouling. To make the game more civilized, they decided to change the rules during the 1920s and 1930s.

By the early 1940s, the gymnasiums were home to all basketball games without cages. In today’s basketball, different teams have different home courts, it is either owned by a city or a local college. 

Cages are done in today’s basketball era and the game of basketball became more organized. The term “cagers” used to describe basketball players were no longer used. Even though the term died, cage courts are still alive and being enjoyed by street basketball players. Cage courts are still popular in street basketball courts and used to prevent the ball from bouncing into the busy streets. 


Even though the term “cagers” died a long time ago, players in today’s generation are still enjoying playing in the cage. Numerous cities across the United States build basketball courts in cages at local public parks, apartments, and near schools.

Some countries also adopt the court with a cage because they build some basketball courts near streets and cages were used to prevent the ball from bouncing off the streets. 

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