The Evolution of American Football: From Its Origins to Modern Day

American football is a very popular sport in the USA, and only basketball can compete with it in popularity. Both athletes and fans adore it. This is a favorite game of schoolchildren and students at universities and colleges. Families go to the stadiums, and each match is enthusiastically discussed as if it were another flight to the moon. In general, this kind of sport in the USA is more than just a sport; it is a whole culture, almost a religion. NFL tickets for football matches are very popular and are sold quickly.

The birth of American football

There are several versions of the emergence of American football. One popular opinion is that this happened in the English town of Rugby. During the game, one of the players broke the rules and went to the other team’s goal, holding the ball in his hands. This was the beginning of new game development.

The official start of American football is considered the day when the teams of two universities (Rutgers and Princeton) held a significant match according to strange rules, reminiscent of European soccer and rugby played simultaneously. In the next decade, the popularity curve of the new sport only went up, but the rules for the matches remained very vague.

What is American football?

This sport is a team game in which each side needs to score the most points. In American football, the objective is to score more points than your opponent before time runs out. There is a game on the field, slashed into segments of five yards, which mark the boundaries of the scoring zones. 11 players play simultaneously and try to score the ball into the goal, that is, throw it over the crossbar between two high bars.

In this case, the participants in the game can move with the ball in their hands, pass it from hand to hand, or throw a pass. The game stops if a recorded violation occurs. For example, a forward pass was not caught, or a player with the ball was knocked down. Thanks to the American football game, discipline and teamwork are developed, as are endurance and stamina.

How has American football changed?

Further, the popularity curve of the new sport only went up, but the rules for the matches remained very vague. The new standards allowed for a forward pass; a neutral zone appeared, and the field size was specified. Walter Camp’s innovations somewhat reduced the game’s intensity. However, the abundance of hard power moves, such as grabbing an opponent in the knee area, still left American football with the glory of a “deadly dangerous sport.”

Public and political influence acted as catalysts for the following rule change. High penalties for deliberately rough play made such tactics unprofitable for the team. In addition, the new terms somewhat shifted American football’s focus from pure strength to speed. This was also facilitated by reducing the number of active players on the team from 15 to 11. Around the same time, the first protective form appeared — breeches with shields.

Along with uniform standards, the American ball also changed. The first teams used a ball of the usual round shape. It was hard to hold and hard to throw correctly. A more suitable projectile for playing rugby turned out to be it, but the peculiar rules of American football quickly transformed it too. The ends of the ball became more elongated, and as the dimensions decreased, a characteristic lacing appeared. The ball became leather, brown with a white stripe.

Scoring methods

The most popular American football scoring methods are:

  • Touchdown — running with the ball into the opponent’s end zone or receiving a pass. Six points are awarded for it.
  • Extra point — a goal scored with a kick after a touchdown can bring one point.
  • Two-point implementation. A team may try a two-point conversion after a touchdown instead of an extra point. The ball is set at the two-yard mark, after which the offense must score another touchdown.
  • Safety — a set of two points by the defense when an attacking player is stopped in his end zone or when he leaves the field in these zones.
  • Field goal — a shot on goal in case of impossibility to reach the opponent’s end zone for the remaining downs.

Almost all actions with the ball are allowed in American football: you can throw it, pass it to a partner, or simply carry it in your hands. Points are awarded for a successful pass to the end zone, moving the ball to the same place as a successful goal.

Modern American football

By the beginning of the 20th century, American football had gained mass popularity. Sport has acquired heroes and regular spectators. American football has finally moved beyond college fields. The National Football League (NFL) is the main tournament in American football.

There are 32 teams in the league, each with over fifty players; most often, they get into the club through a draft. The regular season starts in September and ends in February with a playoff final. Each university has its American football team. Every year, the strongest teams compete for the right to own the prestigious Cups. Currently, American football captivated the hearts of hundreds of millions of fans across all five continents.

In the United States, American football has no equal in terms of popularity. Television broadcasts attract millions of viewers. Until about the seventies of the last century, baseball tried to compete with American football, but it hopelessly lagged. On the contrary, European football has more fans, with 64 national federations worldwide, including the American one.

American football, though, has truly developed only in Canada, Mexico, Japan, and other countries. However, recently teams have appeared in Austria and Sweden. With such growing global interest, it is evident that American football is steadily solidifying its presence on the international stage.