5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The YMCA

On December 29, 1851, the very first American Young Men's Christian Association was organized in Boston, Massachusetts. Here are 5 facts you probably didn’t know about the famous organization.


The YMCA Sued The Village People for Their Hit Song Whether you've danced to the song at weddings or can't help but think of the tune every time you see a police officer or cowboy, the song "Y.M.C.A." is one of the most iconic disco tracks ever created, thanks to the group Village People. It turns out that the Young Men's Christian Association, for whom the song is named, wasn't too thrilled about being at the center of what arguably began as a gay disco anthem and sued the disco group for copyright infringement (the case was eventually dropped).

A YMCA Employee Invented The Sport Of Basketball Many people might know that James Naismith invented basketball, but what they might not know is that he was an employee of the YMCA at the time. Naismith was an instructor at the YMCA's International Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts. He came up with the new game to keep his pupils active as they had to remain indoors to escape the harsh New England winter of 1891.


Another YMCA Employee Invented Volleyball Four years after James Naismith invented basketball, fellow YMCA alum William G. Morgan came up with a new sport of his own. The Bay State YMCA instructor invented a game that he called "Mintonette" for older members who needed an exercise game less strenuous than basketball to play. It was later renamed “Volleyball” because of the way the ball was volleyed back and forth between the players.

Many YMCA Locations Required Nude Swimming Before the 1960s, mandatory nudity was common practice in American swimming pools (unless you were a lady, in which case you would have to wear a full suit at all times). In fact, the American Public Health Association required nude swimming from 1926 until 1962. The YMCA didn’t take a national stance on this topic, allowing individual locations to draft their own rules. Several YMCA chapters enforced nude swimming among males, citing better sanitation. It was believed that nude swimmers were less likely to spread bacteria compared to swimmers who donned swimwear. 

George H.W. Bush Helped Fund The Local Y in Midland, Texas George H.W. Bush served as chairman of a temporary YMCA board in Midland, Texas, and was a key player in helping to raise the funds needed to get the chapter going back in 1953. The 41st president of the United States loved sports, and played both soccer and baseball at Yale University. Quite possibly, Bush's love of sports drove him to help secure the funds needed to build Midland's own YMCA chapter.