Organization of the First Board of Approved Basketball Officials

by Phillip G. Lewis

The Philadelphia Board of Approved Basketball Officials was organized in November of 1912 by Phillip G. Lewis of Philadelphia who held the presidency of this board (the first organization of its kind in the world) continuously for 30 years of the board’s 82 years of existence.

Phil Lewis had as his ultimate objectives the standardization of the playing rules and officiating through interpretive meetings and demonstration games.

The rapid development of similar local boards resulted in the first annual meeting of the present International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, which was conducted in the Hotel Astor, New York City, May 6, 1921.

Representatives from five of the seven chartered boards attended the meeting. The chartered boards functioning at that time were Philadelphia, Chicago, Montclair, NJ, Hartford, CT, Eastern Massachusetts, Detroit and Rochester.

In 1924, Mr. Lewis presented to the National Committee a plan for the organization of the Pennsylvania State Board which was also the first state to organize. The plan was adopted at a meeting in Harrisburg, PA, to which the three districts of the state, namely Eastern, Central and Western had representatives.

Out of the Philadelphia organization grew the Delaware, South Jersey, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster County, Bethlehem, Suburban Philadelphia, Wyoming Valley, Tri-County, Berks County and the Eastern Local Boards.

Pennsylvania is proud of its many accomplishments and the vision of Phillip G. Lewis becomes more apparent with the passing years.