How Did American Football Get Its Start?

The roots of American football

Millions of Americans enjoy watching football, whether its their favorite college or professional team.

While most of the world considers football to be a very different sport, one we all know as soccer, we stand behind our unique way of play because it is the evolution of many years of changes and tweaks that starts with the creation of Rugby Football.

Ever wondered how American Football truly became the game that we all know and love today? Back during the early 1800s, there were seven major public schools in England, yes, just seven schools. During this time, each school had started to truly take an active interest in sports, particularly football. During these early times, six of the schools were using almost the exact same style of play, one that today is known as Association Football, or Soccer in the United States.

The seventh school though, didn’t conform to the same style of play though, this last school was called the Rugby School. While we don’t know why the school took a different route, that’s part of human nature I suppose. The reason why there is some many different types of football, such as soccer and rugby, is because different cultures and communities have different ideas, part of what makes our planet so great. As you probably guessed, this seventh school’s way of play was eventually known as Rugby, and in time Rugby ended up making its way over to American shores.

While Rugby wouldn’t instantly or magically change into American Football, it was instead a gradual process. Eventually, major universities in the States, such as Rutgers and Princeton, would adopt this style of soccer and by 1869 they would start to meet together for intercollegiate games. This would be the beginning of the modern evolution of the game, and by 1873 it was clear that there was a need to revise certain rules and ideas. The new format of the game was still not quite American Football but nor was it traditional rugby anymore, during these days it was the style of play used by the â??Intercollegiate Football Associationâ?.

When exactly did American Football as we know it, so up? You can really say that the game started to look much more like modern football by the early 1900s, with changes such as the introduction of downs and the distance of ten yards being adopted.

Unfortunately, this evolution of Rugby had also managed to become quite brutal, and in the early 1900s there was as many as 180 serious injuries and even eighteen deaths reported because of the play of football.

You know that a sport has become popular when it becomes a matter that gets the President involved, and soon Roosevelt decided to step in and ask the major schools to get together and revise the rules, in order to make the game better, and ultimately safer. The end result would be the revision of rules on the NCAA.

Since then, the game has continued to change as new situations are encountered that need to be addressed, but for the most part, you can credit the American Football game that we know of today as being the works of rule changes that were at least in part initiated in thanks to President Roosevelt.

A big thanks to Elite Kicking and their Football Kicking Coach, Shane Andrus, for the resources and information provided in the creation of this article.

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  1. Interesting, I didn’t know that President Roosevelt was linked to American football. I come from England but we had one student who’d been studying in America, so we ended up playing American football in an English school. It was really fun, although I never quite grasped the rules . . . I remember doing a sliding touch down into some dog’s . . . Not a great experience, although I think it made my school friends’ day more memorable.

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