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Do You Know Who Invented America's Most Popular Spectator Sport?


American football has become the most popular spectator sport in America and its origins can be found in the various versions of rugby that were played in the United Kingdom in the mid nineteenth century.

The most significant changes to the various American forms of the game that were being played were those instigated by Walter Camp who is considered to be "the father of American Football".

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American football has become the most popular spectator sport in America and its origins can be found in the various versions of rugby that were played in the United Kingdom in the mid nineteenth century.

The most significant changes to the various American forms of the game that were being played were those instigated by Walter Camp who is considered to be "the father of American Football".

The Early Years

The earliest games that resemble football were played as far back as the 17th century in the United States and they remain reasonably unchanged and unorganized until the early 19th century.

At about this time the game began to be played on college campuses across the United States in various forms but the game still remain largely unorganized.

Most of these games consisted of large numbers of players trying to advance the ball towards a "goal area" often by any means necessary.

This often led to violent clashes and injury or worse. This led to the game eventually being banned from most campuses.

In the prep schools of New England however the game continued in popularity and in 1855 manufactured inflatable balls were introduced. These new balls were quickly adopted as they had a more regular shape and were easier to kick or hold.

Two distinct types of game began to evolve, one which consisted of mainly kicking the ball and the other that involved carrying the ball.

A hybrid of the two also began to evolve, known as the "Boston game" was played by the Oneida Football Club, which was founded in 1862, and is considered by many to be the first formal football club in the USA.

After catching the attention of the press the games popularity continued to spread throughout the 60's.

The late 60's also saw the return of the kicking game returning to many American colleges and the English Football Associations rules whereas the running game resembling rugby was adopted by the Montreal Football Club in Canada.

The "kicking" form of the game continued to be played between colleges but each game was played under the rules of the home team as there were still now standard rules.colleges own rules of the home team.

Then in 1873 representatives from Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers met to make the first set of collegiate football rules. However Harvard, who played the Boston game, refused to attend.

As a result of Harvard refusal to adopt these new rules they found it difficult find games with other colleges or universities and so in 1874 they played a Bostongame and rugby game against the McGill university from Canada. Harvard easily won the Bostongame and managed to tie the rugby game.

In 1875 the first game played between two American colleges, Harvard and Yale, played under a set of modified rugby rules known as "The Concessionary Rules". The Yale team, finding that it preferred the game as well took it back with them as did fans from Princeton.

In 1873 representatives from Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Yale met to standardize a set of rules for the game which were largely based on the Rugby Union Code from England. One of the biggest differences was the introduction of a kicked goal with a touchdown.

Three of the colleges formed the ntercollegiate Football Association but Yale didn't join until 1879 due to a disagreement on the number of players in a team.
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Camp: The Father of American Football?

Walter Camp is considered to be the "father of American Football" due to the many important rule changes he made to the game whilst he was attending Yale University.

The first rule change that he proposed that was implemented, although rejected the first time, was a reduction in the number of players from 15 to 11.

Other rule changes that he proposed, and were implemented were the line of scrimmage and the snap from center to quaterback.

The scrimmage line rules however were later revised because many teams were abuse the rule to keep possession of the ball for an entire game and also because instead of speeding the game up, which was its initial intent, it was slowing it down.

Camp therefore proposed that the rules be changed so that a team had to advance the ball a minimum of 5 yards within three downs.

It was this rules that really brought the game into a league of its own, separating it from its past associations with both rugby and soccer to create a truly unique game which grew to become American Football as we know it today.

Camp was responsible for many other rule changes throughout the late 19 Century and early 20 Century even though he was no longer a player.

During the late 19th century and early 20th century the game was developed by several college coaches and the popularity of collegiate football grew and it became the most dominant version of the game which was often fueled by the fierce competition and rivalry between colleges. Bowl games were a college tradition attracted a national audience to the games.

The Birth of the Prfessional Game and a National Sport

The first professional football games can be traced back to 1892 when William Pudge Heffelfinge being offered a $500 contract to play in a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.

In 1920 the American Professional Football Association was founded which changed its name to the National Football League in 1922.

Originally the sport was mainly played in the Midwest between industrial towns but its popularity quickly increased and eventually it became a nationally recognized sport and is now the most popular American spectator sport.

One of the the most notably events in the games history, and one of the most defining moments in the sports increased popularity can be traced back to the 1958 NFL Championship Game, often billed as the "Greatest Game Ever Played".

In 1960 the American Football League (AFL) was formed in competition to the NFL but after a few years the two leagues merged and the Super Bowl was created which has since become the most watched annual TV event in the United States.



NFL Teams

AFC-North AFC-South
  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans
AFC-East AFC-West
  • Denver Broncos
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Oakland Raiders
  • San Diego Chargers
NFC-North NFC-South
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC-East NFC-West



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