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American Football › Articles

One of America's favorite pastimes, football, sure has changed over the years . . .

Beginning in the latter 1800s, American football - a combination of soccer and rugby - became popular on college campuses. The first football game was played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton - in New Jersey. Very different from what we consider football today, the rules, the number of players, and even the way of playing immediately began evolving until 1880, when Walter Camp structured the game with a series of rules - which included team size and the system of downs. He is widely considered the father of football, though the rules have futher evolved - and are doing so today.

And the game really took off, now being a matter of big business - pro football, and school pride - college and high school football. Consider these facts about American football:

  • In order to prove their toughness to their fathers and grandfathers— many of them Civil War veterans —the young men who played American football at the turn of the 20th century played "rough". Colliding with other players with regularity, they didn't wear helmets - and little protective clothing. In 1905, 18 players died as a result of the injuries they got playing football.
  • The NFL was formed in Canton on Sept. 17, 1920 - it was first called the American Professional Football Association.
  • The NFL requires that all stadiums be built facing north and south so that the sun never interferes with a play. (Although that means that spectators could have the sun in their eyes!)
  • American football employs several officials at a game in order to ensure fairness. They are the referee - the highest ranking official - the umpire, the back judge, the head linesman, the side judge, the line judge and the field judge.
  • 1.084 million boys - and about 1,500 girls - played high school football in 2017
  • The NFL made about $13 Billion In 2016.

Discover how the game and gear have changed since the 1880s with these popular football photos.