As in other states, Tasmanian basketball began with the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), which organised competitions in Hobart, Launceston and possibly Devonport in the 1930s. Basketball stagnated in the war years with so much of the male population serving in the armed forces. Competitions were reinstated following the war, and in 1946 the YMCA and others formed the Tasmanian Basketball Association, conducting competitions at Anglesea Barracks then Hobart's City Hall. Tasmania was also represented in the Amateur Basketball Union of Australia, formed that year.
During the next decade basketball became established throughout Tasmania, but it was fragmented and, being a new concept, it suffered from lack of facilities, infrastructure and co-ordination. The Tasmanian government assisted, especially through National Fitness Officer George Russell, based in Devonport. Russell, president then secretary of the Tasmanian Basketball Association, oversaw the growth of the sport in Tasmania over 25 years. During the 'Russell era' Tasmania became an integral part of the national scene, and the state regularly participated in Australian Championships, and hosted national events more than capably. Tony Fulton then David Scott guided the sport's management in the final three decades of the century, with Scott becoming the sport's first paid administrator in 1981, a role he still fills.
Tasmanian teams won titles in national competitions, Launceston Casino City in 1981 in the National Basketball League, and the Tassie Islanders in 1991 in the Women's National Basketball League. The Tassie Devils experienced some success in the League in the late 1980s and early 1990s, attracting a strong following. But Tasmania's small population and economy proved too big a hurdle and both surviving teams, the Devils and Islanders, withdrew in the mid-1990s.
In the following years, Tasmania established a niche in the Australian Basketball Association, a club-based national competition one level down, winning three men's titles (North West Tasmania in 1996 and Hobart in 2000 and 2002) and one women's title (Launceston in 1995). Tasmania continues to provide more than its per capita share of Australian representatives. In 2003, Tasmanians won three of 26 basketball scholarships at Canberra's Australian Institute of Sport and played in two national age teams, and the Australian women's team, the Opals, included two Tasmanians.
Individual stars have included Nita Burke (née French, 1937), who played in the Australian team six times, and was made captain in 1963; and Kathy Foster (née Davey, 1960), who played in the Australian team from 1981 to 1988, and was vice-captain from 1983. Kathy competed at the 1984 Olympics and won gold with the Australian team at the 1983 Commonwealth Games. In 2006 Holly Grima was a member of the Australian team which won the world title.
Further reading: D Young, Sporting Island, Hobart, 2005.