The History of American Football Essay

Football has continued to be the most interesting and hyped field game of the 21st century. Ranging from the fans, income, government support, international tournaments, leagues, world cup, and the coaches; indeed football has evolved becoming the most affluent and popular game in the modern world. The intrigues of this game are so diverse that suicidal deaths had been reported when one’s team was defeated in unclear circumstances. People make bets on the team that is expected to win. The biggest teams in the world have their players known virtually by all supporters with every transfer window attracting huge money exchange for the talent that is spotted in upcoming footballers (Gems 26). However, have people contemplated on the history of football? Did original football have the twenty-two players we have in the field today? Worse still, do people recognize the form and style of American football? How has American football developed overtime to reach the current international recognition? Which stages has it passed? These pertinent questions need to be answered in the game of football.

This paper will vividly present the history of the American football

  • Status of the American Football

American football has seen two distinct waves that are currently recognized and highly valued in the entire country. The present day college football has seen unanticipated growth reaching lucrative levels. This has led to sentiments by a huge population of American public that think college athletes should be paid. The other facet of the American football is the professional football (Boyles, Guido 10). Although professional football came to be as a consequence of the college football, they both have evolved different traits and leadership that follow different pathways to their present day success.

  • College Football

American college football received much influence from the game of rugby that was played in England in the early 1820s (Danzig 16). During this time, football in America was played as a game where a ball could be kicked past a drawn a line or a goal. Rules never existed, and measurements of the field were not important. This football greatly resembled rugby and association football, which was very popular in the 18th century (Anderson 10). Walter Camp was instrumental in modeling of American football rules in the track and line scrimmage.

Despite the recognition of Walter Camp as the founder of the American football, colleges like Princeton were already engaged in a game akin to football popularly known as Ballown. The ball in this game was instrumentally hit by a fist then advanced past opponents using feet. The only provision of this game played by the Princeton College was to take the ball by feet past the opponents (Camp 12). All other rules of football recognized today did not exist. It is important to note that the inability to have rules for the Ballown turned this game physical most of the time, and it was greatly characterized by violence after pressures could not be taken anymore. This aspect of violence is what prepared college football for the next step: rules. Other colleges too had their games that resembled football, and Harvard was not left out. Every Monday, a game was played that involved kicking like that of Princeton and still had no rules (Danzig 16). The only difference was that the Harvard game was to be held every Monday. In the history of Harvard school, the word “Bloody Monday” is highly valued because of its pertinent sentiments it holds to the football fraternity. In this school, the game turned so physical that violence had to sprout every Monday because it was the day this game was to be played. As a result, the day was renamed to symbolize this phenomenal event.

The year 1865 saw the introduction of field rules in the college football. This was very instrumental in modeling the present day professional and college football in the United States. These rules laid the foundation for intercollegiate football tournaments, with the first being held four years later, in 1869 where Princeton College, the first college to play a game akin to football, played against Rutgers. It was; however, disappointing for the founders of college football to lose to Rutgers with a goal difference of two. The entry of IFA (Inter Collegiate Football Association) in 1873 was a great milestone in monitoring team behavior, enforcement of rules, and raising the status of college football. The initial representatives of the association were drawn from Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers colleges. It is amazing that the entry of IFA allowed each team in the game to have fifteen players! This is very amazing! The present day eleven players in each team then have come a long way following professional decisions and observations. These allowed the trimming from 30 players in a field to the present day twenty-two. This Collegiate football tournament gave birth to an apt coach known as Walter Camp, who coached Yale college football team. He is instrumental for introduction of rules and trimming of players from fifteenth to current eleven per team. Consequently, many people refer to Camp as the father of the American football.

The present day size of the football field of hundred and ten yards was set by Walter Camp. Despite the huge improvements in the rules of the game, several deaths and fatal injuries were still being recorded in the American college football (AFL History). The frequency of injuries rendering most colleges athletes unable to continue with their core goal of studying, and the financial implications of the medical bills led to banning of college football in the United States. Did anyone think that the present hype that college football is receiving could have been actualized at this stage? In deed, no one could have harbored such ideologies, the same way people today do not understand the obstacles present day American football underwent to reach its status (Anderson 20). Despite the injuries and drawbacks of college football, many colleges joined the game, to reach a high of 43 colleges by the year 1904.

The final hurdle in unearthing the potential and ecstasy of American football was jumped in the 1905 when the then president T. Roosevelt directed for start of meetings between the most enthusiastic colleges comprising Princeton, Yale, and Harvard to set a up a committee of seven individuals, which was geared at generating and enforcing rules about college football. It is worth noting that, during the early days of the colleges football games, football was considered a brutal game and led to its banning in several colleges who had enthusiastically entered the game. The arms locking phenomenon, which was used mainly to create a neutral zone between the offense and the defense was banned for the violence it caused. According to Oriard, the success of this committee was enormous, and it was renamed to be NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) (5). This committee has continued to mould the American college football to the present day form and lucre. By the year 1920, the success of the college football had rocked every part of the nation, and investors were seeking a window of opportunity to make more money while enjoying the game. Consequently, professional football was officially unearthed in this year. The greatest queries were what happened to football stars after they graduated from college and could not play for the colleges anymore. What about their talent? These questions were to be answered by entry of the professional phase of the American football. Players could be paid and regarded as employees of a club where all the efforts were targeted at the game. In the early years of 1950s college football saw an inclusion of a fifth referee who ensured that safety in the field has increased. However, the set back to this was the inclusion of many penalties because this referee was monitoring every move of the players. Presently, people do not have to go to the field to watch college football anymore, satellite technology enable real time broadcast of the game and people can watch from the comfort of their houses.

  • Professional Football

The collapse of the intercollegiate football association in the year 1895 following by the intense fatal injuries led to sprouting of football outside the colleges (Oriard 30). The resumption of the colleges’ football again in 1905 under the directive of President Theodore Roosevelt gave a boost for recognition of American football in both colleges and the professional stage. In the year 1920, a separate group from the NCAA was formed to oversee the professional section of this game. The body overseeing professional football in this year was known as American Professional Football Association. Its success and ability to draw talent to it saw reorganization two years later, and by 1922, the game oversight organization was changed to be the National Football League (Oriard 21). It was; however, amazing that change over from APFA to NFL saw a change from initial twenty-three teams to a low of ten teams under the NFL. The number of teams in NFL had risen slowly, and by the year 1970, sixteen NFL teams merged with ten AFL teams, to form a unified league of twenty-six teams (Gruver 25). American professional football gained ground through the nineteen eighties reaching a onetime height in 1994 when the league was upgraded to include up to thirty teams.

Since the advancements in the year 1994, the American Professional Football league had undergone several changes to incorporate eight divisions of the league each having four teams. Although a rival football, game is played in the spring, it has not received much followership as the national football league in the American population. This spring football is popularly known as Arena Football, and it is played indoor comprising teams of eight men. Despite the humble beginning of the professional football, which sprouted from the rules, forms, standardized fields and number of players derived from the college football, its professionalism has attracted many players outside the American continent. Presently, professional football in the United States is a business as hinted earlier.

The first professional player (to have played for money) was William Heffelfinger who in 1892 played for Allegheny Athletic Association (Gruver 12). To show the height of the American football, the Super Bowl competition is only attended by fans of the two teams competing. It is amazing that fans of the teams would buy tickets in anticipation of the grand finale, but in case such a team would not make it to the finals, then such a ticket would be passed to their children in anticipation of this great finale. Consequently, Super Bowl has been described as the most watched event in the annals of American professional football. To show the culmination of football from a noble game in selected colleges in the United States, to the modern professional form and popularity, betting is no longer done on the final score alone. Presently, bets are placed depending on cards to be given, yards played by a player during a game, and other real-time bets. No wonder American football is a magnificent game adored by multitudes. Although professional football was officially recognized in 1920, it does not mean that other teams did not play outside the intercollegiate tournaments. Many teams existed, but there was no play for pay. These were popularly known as amateur squads. After Heffelfinger play for pay for only one game, several players were professionally enrolled in the professional play in 1893. However, this registration of players under pay was formalized in 1920.

  • Money Oriented Football at Present-Day United States

The game between the college teams of Princeton and Rutgers might have been a humble beginning for the collegiate league; however, it has made a huge milestone in the professional and business oriented football, in this country. The hype and betting with which this game was characterized made many people think of American football as a stepping-stone to international recognition (McFarland 5). The subsequent national games under the National Football League culminated in awarding of a trophy to the champion, same case with the American conference. The champions from the two sides of the league compete to determine the Super Bowl champion. The present day college and professional football has not only generated followership in the United States, but also in the entire world. The ability to draw a large crowd has made this game very popular worldwide. The First Super Bowl competition was held in January 1967 whereby the Green Bay Packers competed with the chiefs of Kansas City and Green Bay Packers won the competition (Jenkins 30).

Presently, the college football is generating huge money, which has made many pundits wonder why it is not being taken as the professional football. There are sentiments that college athletes should be paid despite the scholarships they get to complete their degrees. It is amazing that having a talent for football in the United States might give one a direct enrollment in a competitive college despite the poor academic performance. This shows how American football has become of age even to make colleges scramble for available athletes. The harmonization of the game to include stiffer on-track rules and other officials during the matches has made this game greatly interesting (Goldblatt 12). Both American college football and professional leagues are highly disciplined with fans respecting each other. Fights and fatal injuries are no longer frequent. The racial connotations of the game do not exist because presently the NFL is attracting players as far as Asia and Africa. This journey to the present day form of football is worthwhile knowing. Indeed college football is the predecessor of the present day professional football, but college football still commands most followership in the United States.

In conclusion, this paper was seeking to present a vivid history of the American football. The present day college football has seen unanticipated growth reaching lucrative levels, such that a huge population of American public thinks that college athletes should be paid. Rugby, which was played in England in the early 1820s, was the main influence toward the development of football in the United States. Walter Camp was instrumental in modeling of American football rules in the track and line scrimmage. Princeton college played Ballown, which was a game played by fists and feet. Rules did not exist as the way they are recognized today. Harvard school too played its form of football that made every Monday be renamed into “Bloody Monday”. The year 1865 saw the introduction of field rules in the college football. The laid down rules laid the foundation for intercollegiate football tournaments with the first being held four years later, in 1869 where Princeton College played against Rutgers. The Inter Collegiate Football Association came into force in 1873 and completely revolutionized the game, which was marred by violence, and by 1920, professional football was officially recognized. The present day professional football is a very lucrative business attracting the best talent both within and outside the United States.

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