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The History And Evolution Of Football

1205 words - 5 pages

Football is a full contact sport that millions of fans watch every season even though it is not a worldwide sport yet. Baseball may be America’s past time but football is America’s obsession. It is played on a field but the athletes seem more like gladiators fighting for blood in the arena for the amusement of their fans. The sport has changed drastically over the years into an event unlike any other, from gaining fans to implementing new rules and regulations in order to keep players safe.
Football’s ancestors are considered to be rugby and soccer, with rugby being the more dominant aspect of the game. The game of football was born on November 6, 1869, when teams from Rutgers and Princeton Universities met for the first intercollegiate football game. At that time the game still resembled rugby and was more of an organized brawl than a sport. Then in 1873, representatives from Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton, and Yale Universities met in New York City to create the first collegiate league for the sport. They eventually established the Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA). Over the next decade some colleges decided to ban the brutal sport because of all the injuries received by its players. “Nearly 180 players had suffered serious injuries, and eighteen deaths had been reported from the brutal mass plays that had become common practice” (A Brief History of the Game). With these staggering numbers of injuries and deaths the game was falling to its own demise. So in 1905, President Roosevelt asked Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to save the sport. After several meetings the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, was established as the governing group for football in college. They redesigned the game and added many new rules, such as forward passing, to reduce the number of injuries from the mass plays that teams used to use.
After gaining popularity in college athletics there was talk of creating a nation-wide football league. A meeting was held on August 20, 1920 by representitives from four Ohio League football teams to create a single conference to "raise the standard of professional football in every way possible, to eliminate bidding for players between rival clubs and to secure cooperation in the formation of schedules" (Happy Birthday NFL?). They named the group the American Professional Football Association (APFA) and appointed Jim Thorpe their first president. There were 14 teams in the league of which only two still remain, the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears. After two seasons the league renamed itself to what it is now known as, the National Football League.
Starting in 1922, NFL games had as little as 800 fans cheering in the stands (Peterson, 3). However as the sport grew so did its fan base. “By the late 1940’s…attendance averaged more than 25,000” (Peterson, 3). Comparing this attendance rate at that time to a top college football game it was a fraction. The NFL was gaining popularity but Baseball and...

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