The sport of American football has originated from two sports, soccer and rugby, which are popular around the world. In the 1880s a rugby player from Yale, Walter Camp, made slight changes to the rules of rugby that transformed it into the new game of American football. Camp contributed many changes from rugby and soccer to American football from the line of scrimmage to the snap from center to quarter-back. The most significant difference from rugby and American football was the system of ‘downs’ in which a team is only given a number of plays to cover a certain area of the field in order to keep possession of the ball.
From all these changes the game was evolving into the sport of American football. November 12, 1892 an important date in sport history.
It was the day the Allegheny Athletic Association football team defeated the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, the game was not as important as was the fact that one of the AAA players, William Heffelfinger was openly paid $500 to play the game, making him the first known professional football player.
Although payments to players were considered unsporting and dishonourable and even though PAC had suspicions it was kept a secret for years.
After almost 80 years the Pro Football Hall of Fame received and displayed a document of an expense accounting sheet of the Allegheny Athletic Association, also known as “the birth certificate of pro football. ” Therefore pro football made its way after more than 100 years of being invented, as an official professional sport.
The game of American football caught on quickly, having intercollegiate teams in over 43 universities in 1900. Although the game became very popular it started to cause controversy because of all the violence in the sport, many players had been seriously injured or even killed in the early 1900s.
Camp was to reassess the rules to make the game safer. Some of these new rules included the introduction of a neutral zone and a ban on the interlocking formations. It was also decided that at least seven players be on the line of scrimmage at the beginning of play to help prevent vicious tackling. These new rules had been successful as the number of deaths and injuries decreased greatly. Although slight changes to the equipment; padding becoming thicker, helmets covering the face, etc. had occurred later on in history, this was only to help further protect athletes.
Rules had also been changed slightly over the years, but the fundamentals of American football had been set. Between 1910 and 1912 the administration of professional leagues was disorganised, players had little incentive to remain loyal to a single team. In 1920, it was decided to develop a body to oversee a major football league and bring organisation to the game. The American Professional Football Association, renamed the National Football League (NFL) in 1922. This new association was a part of the motion that reduced the constant movement of players and encouraged team loyalty.
The NFL flourished in the 20th Century as American football became even more popular. In 1959, the sport faced a problem. Lamar Hunt, frustrated by the NFL created a serious rival to the league; the American Football League. The 1960s were dominated by dispute of the two rival leagues over players and television rights. The AFL took the NFL to court over the unfair domination of television, though the court ruled in favour of the NFL. It was obvious that something had to be done about the two rival leagues. In 1966, senior figures from both leagues decided that the AFL and NFL should merge in order to eliminate arguments about players, sponsorships, and air time. Since 1970, one major football league, the NFL has existed in the United States.
The league is divided into the American Football Conference and National Football Conference, the champions of the two now play every year in the Super Bowl. Around the world American football has been played outside the US since the 1920s. Although in Canada, Canadian football evolved parallel to American football even though they share the same 1 / 2 history there are some differences between the two.
In 1998, the International Federation of American Football, was formed to coordinate international amateur competition. A long term goal for IFAF has been for American football to be accepted by the International Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport. In order to achieve this IFAF has to solve many issues such as making a competitive women’s division and expanding the sport to Africa.
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