THE ORIGINS OF THE GAME
(478 BC - 1862)
Before there was the no huddle spread offense, before there was the Nickel defense, and before there was the zone blitz, there was the Chinese game of Tsu Chu. Military manuals dating to 2000BC indicate that Tsu Chu, a game that was played with a stuffed leather ball and involved using the feet, was used as a physical activity for the Chinese soldiers. According to Chinese legend the founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang, was a big fan of the game and a special field was built near the Palace where skilled players were invited to play. However even before the Military manuals, Chinese tales claim the game may have gone back as far ...view middle of the document...
The Lacedaemonians played the game under the name Epicyrus, and about 300 BC the Romans popularized the game under the name of Harpastum. It was played as recreation by soldiers. Later the Romans called this same game Follis and Calcio.
At least with regard to football, the Nordic races benefited from the invasion of Britain by the Romans. After being overcome by the Romans, the game spread rapidly among the Jutes, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, and Danes. In 28 BC Augustus Caesar modified the game to a more severe contest to help train his soldiers, but he later banned it altogether on the basis of its being too kind-hearted a method of training for his soldiers.
For nearly a thousand years following the birth of Christianity, the game gradually faded in all but the Nordic countries and the British Isles. In England it was undergoing a steady growth. A succession of English rulers, including Edward II through Henry VII however, all banned the game at one time or another for various reasons. During the reigns of both Queen Elizabeth and James I, football was restored to royal favor. The chief place of popularity was in the English preparatory schools such as Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester, and Charterhouse. Around the same time a revived model of Calcio found growing popularity in fifteenth century Italy.
There is evidence that football played an important part in England during the 12th century. The English holiday "Shrove Tuesday" became a special football day as business was suspended and citizens turned out for the afternoon game. The game was played with several hundred men taking part. Town challenged town or parish met parish. The ball was put in play midway between the two places, and the game lasted for hours until one side had kicked the ball into the other's domain or until darkness called a halt. It is said that "Shrove Tuesday" originated in 217 AD when the English of Chester formed a flying wedge and rushed the Roman legions out of the town.
In King Lear, Shakespeare refers to the game of football. In Scene IV of Act I the king says to Oswald, who is Goneril's steward, “Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?” Oswald replies, “I’ll not be struck, me lord.” Thereupon the Earl of Kent interposes, “Nor tripped neither, you base football player,” as he upsets the Oswald by tripping him.
The Game of Football
The game called "football" is played throughout the world. Most modern versions of football, however, originated in England, where a form of the game was known as early as the 12th century. Early games appear to have had much in common with the time-honored "mob football" played in England. In subsequent centuries football became so popular that various English monarchs, including Edward II and Henry VI, forbade the game because it took interest away from the military...