A Historical Timeline of Football

Football, or American Football whatever you call it is a popular sport that involves two teams of players competing for territory using a ball and using several tactics to get the ball to the goal line of the opposing team’s goal. It’s just like soccer, but the only difference is that football doesn’t have a goal defender. Football is more inclined to Rugby and Australian Rules Football where all team members play a defensive or offensive role in the game. In this article, we’re going to explore the brief history of football and how it became the sport we know and love today.

  • The 1800s
  • American Football is considered indigenous in North America, and older versions of the sport were played in several countries this year. Before it got its name, the sport is called “ballown” which involves passing and punching the ball across the field pass the opposing team to score a goal. Several years later, the sport is renamed to football but its rules are changing from time to time when new students get a hands-on the sport.
  • Students at Harvard University played a similar sport on the first Monday of the academic year. The sport was called “Bloody Monday” and was played as an ice breaker for new students to get to know each other. Its objective is to score goals as much as possible.

  • The 1860s
  • Before Football, there was Rugby which was invented in England in the 1860s. Rugby is a bit similar to soccer and this play style dates back to the middle ages where groups of rival villages would compete to score a goal. Their ball was a bit different though. Instead of using an actual ball, they use inflated pig bladders instead that were held and run until the player was tackled to let go of the pig bladder. A score will be recorded if the ball (or bladder) will be picked and carried thru a designated point in the village.
  • During this time, several schools and universities had partnered together to form a set of rules for the said sport. When the rules have been laid out, the result is teams from different schools and universities can now play against each other or teams from another district.
  • However, not all are happy with the rules. Some teams created their own code instead known as rugby which involves picking up the ball and tackling opponents.

  • 1869
  • Rutgers and Princeton created their own rules of play where on November 6, 1869, the first ever intercollegiate game of football was held. Rutgers won the game with a score of six goals compared to Princeton, who only scored four goals.

  • 1873
  • Representatives from Princeton, Rutgers, Yale, and Columbia have teamed up together to create another set of rules for the sport to be used in their own intercollegiate games. The rules were inspired by rugby, with one rule reducing the number of players from twenty down to fifteen.
  • Walter Camp of Yale saw the rules and want to change it even more. From a shorter playing field and lesser players as well. Camp was the senior member of the IFA rules committee, and a few days later, his own rules were granted. This year is the birth of American style football where it became popular among American players compared to the older rugby-style game. Several colleges in the US adopted Camps football rules as well.

  • 1882
  • Camp and the rules committee brought in the new system of three downs, a further change from rugby that allowed the team with possession of the ball to retain possession until the completion of their set play.

  • The 1890s
  • Lots of colleges banned the sport because of safety concerns. The sport is called to be “too rough and brutal” were lots of reports involving injuries were on the rise. Over 60 colleges have partnered up to ban the game but that didn’t stop President Roosevelt to let the game live on. He was an avid fan of the game and what he did is he eliminated rules that contain brutality in the game.
  • Rules such as the forward pass were immediately eliminated as this is the one that causes the injuries. The number of downs also increased to four and the distance of play between downs have increased to ten yards compared to five from before.

  • 1920
  • In this year, the National Football League (NFL) was born. The rules of play are just the same for college football. Players are now called professional which enables them not to find a separate job anymore.

  • 1950
  • NFL and professional football dominated the television industry where it saw an increase in viewer numbers. The American Football League (AFL) also appeared in the scene to rival NFL where it aired in areas the NFL channel can’t reach.

  • 1970
  • From rivals to friends, both NFL and AFL partnered together to form a team franchise that defined the history of American Football. A stronger league had emerged, and thus the Super Bowl was born, which is the championship game of football as a whole.

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