Which came first rugby or soccer

The history of American football

Where did American football begin?

The real origin of this sport can be found in the American universities and especially in the colleges on the east coast of America. American football evolved from a mix of rugby and soccer in the 1870s.

The professional league, the NFL, did not introduce the first fixed rules until the 1930s. Now it is difficult to find out from which specific ball games American football developed, since many of their influences have played out here. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the "kicking games" of the 1800s are considered to be forerunners. If you want to find out more about the processes at this point, you should look around the history of football.

The first football game in New Jersey

However, the actual origin can be dated quite precisely to November 6, 1869. On that day, Princeton and Rutgers Universities competed against each other for the first time in New Jersey. At that time Rutgers had won 6-4. However, the rules of the time were more similar to football, as American football did not even exist yet. In addition, further encounters between the teams of the rugby teams from Harvard and Montreal followed in 1874. In the end, these gave an incentive to finally develop their own sport.

Who Invented American Football?

Instead of naming a person who developed this sport, we would like to turn our gaze to Walter Camp. He is significantly involved in the development as a coach, functionary and player and shaped them until 1925. The basic regulations included the number of 11 players and possession of the ball for 3 attempts at a time.

On top of that, an attack formation consisting of 7 players was assumed. 4 of the players are right on the line and 3 are in the back room. A total of 10 games took place between the Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays.

Walter Camp - the figurehead of American football

Camp also developed its own All America team, which received an annual honor from the US President. Perhaps some will remember the encounter between Forrest Gump and the then president when he was on the college football team. This very scene pays homage to one of the greatest moments a football player can have.

It didn't take long for football players to become increasingly popular, with up to 30,000 spectators attending the Ivy League matches in the 1890s. At the same time, the first competitions outside the university started.

In 1902 a new tradition was introduced: the Rose Bowl determined the annual champions. It was about appointments by journalists and trainers.

The beginning of professional American football

On November 18, 1892, everything was to be different, football excited the whole of America and from then on it was played professionally outside of colleges. At this point in time, a club even offered a player money to compete with the team for the first time.

There is talk of William Heffelfinger who received $ 500 from the Allegheny Club when he joined the team and hit the field.

They had also taken care of their travel expenses. In the end, it was precisely this player who made the only touchdown and win the game. The excitement was great, if unjustified. The importance of this game could not be estimated at the time. Nevertheless, this action finally broke the way for professional sport. From now on, other clubs also hired their players to run for a salary on the field.

American football is plunging into its first crisis

But this new knowledge and further development was also accompanied by a crisis. Over a dozen players were killed in one season. They got caught in wedge formations and rushed towards each other unchecked. As a result, the Flying Wedge formation, for example, was banned in 1894.

After this did not decrease the number of accidents and serious injuries, the then President Theodore Roosevelt had called for rule changes to make the football game safer for the players.

The result: the current form of American football came into force in 1912. In this context, forward passes were introduced and 6 points were awarded for a touchdown.

As far as the first dimensions of the game were concerned, the Harvard stadium was used as a reference.

The first fixed rules

These rules and the first standards gave the whole sport its characteristic image, so that in 1876 a set of rules was published.

The playing time was set at 2x 45 minutes as well as the ban on rugby-like scrum. This was replaced by the scrimmage - what is meant is the possession of the ball by the attacking team. Especially since at that time a team had a total of 4 attack attempts in which they had to create 5 yards.

To show the individual development steps and changes would go beyond the scope of this article. Rather, we wanted to outline the beginnings and the first stages of development of American football to whet your appetite for more.

How long has the American Football professional league NFL existed?

The NFL professional league as we know it today originated in 1920. In 1951, an NFL championship game was played for the first time and broadcast across the country.

Initially, $ 75,000 went to the NFL. Not to be imagined when we are talking about billions in investments today. The real breakthrough came in 1958 when the NBC broadcast the match between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts in anzen country.

American football: from the beginning until today

American football is one of the most popular sports in the world today, although the majority of the fans naturally only reside in the USA. However, the sport is also gaining popularity in this country - and so it can't hurt to take a closer look at American football, which is both traditional and complex.

American football - the beginnings

We're turning the clock back to the 1870s: soccer and rugby were already known and American football - the term didn't exist back then - was a mixture of these two sports. The generally accepted date for one of the most important building blocks of later American football is November 6, 1869, when students from Ivy League University Princeton and the somewhat less highly regarded Rutgers University met.

This first game was very similar to football: there were no segments like offense and defense, instead there were many rallies between the players of a team - similar to football. These first steps were still a long way from what we would call American football today. Another important meeting came in 1874 when the teams from McGill University in Montreal (Canada also played an important role in the creation of American football) and Harvard played against each other. A mixture of rugby and soccer has already been tried out here, which over the next few decades should develop into what American football is today.

Incidentally, the history books attribute an important role in providing food for thought for today's rules to a frustrated player who boredly picked up the ball - at the time a violation of football-like rules - and simply ran into the goal. Some viewers were outraged, while others saw the potential of this idea.

The first star of American football

The first important name of any single person in American football is Walter Camp. Born on April 7, 1859, Camp grew up at a time when football was the measure of all things in terms of popularity. In 1876 the universities of Harvard and Yale finally played against each other, at that time still in rugby. Walter Camp was also a member of this party on the part of Yale. Camp didn't enjoy the game, however, which he said was mainly due to the rules. As inventive as Camp was, he simply changed those rules a bit - and thus brought into being what we now call American football.

He then began to play himself in the period from 1877 to 1882 and later - between 1888 and 1891 - to be the coach of the official football team at Yale University. Since he himself practically invented the game from borrowings from football and rugby, it was also up to him to permanently change the rules and make them fairer in the interests of competitive sport:

  • For the first time, Walter Camp set the number of players at eleven people per team. Seven of them were in the attack formation, another four players occupied the backcourt.
  • A team has exclusive possession of the ball for every three attempts. Before camp, the team that was able to snatch the ball away from the opposing team was simply in possession of the ball.
  • A total of around ten games were played between September and November, each with a clearly defined beginning and a set end due to US holidays. A kind of league operation was introduced early on, although at that time it was not even possible to speak of an NFL-like association.

Walter Camp is not comparable to today's stars of American football - the sport was still more of a niche and most people would have shrugged their shoulders at the mention of the name - but there was for the development of the sport no more important person than him.

American football experienced its first small boom when Camp selected a squad of the best players from the Ivy League universities and named them the All America team. A tribute to then US President Grover Cleveland sparked interest in the sport among the general public, and stadiums with 30,000 spectators were no longer an exception from the 1890s onwards. Professional approaches with competitions that also took place outside of universities already existed back then. However, the current conditions in which American football is already played at college age hardly existed at the time.

Walter Camp developed American football until 1925, when he died of a heart attack at a meeting of the rules committee.

American football professionalization

Another important figure in the early development of American football was William Heffelfinger. On November 18, 1892, the Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA) and the Pittsburg Atheletic Association (PAA) played against each other - largely comparable to sports clubs that played various sports on a solid level. Heffelfinger was already a well-known football player at the time, who played at the University of Minnesota, among other places. His extraordinary skill level was responsible for the fact that both AAA and PAA wanted to win Heffelfinger for the upcoming game - if necessary with funds, even though the game was not about a financial price. The players fought for honor alone.

In the end, the AAA won 4-0 - mainly thanks to Heffelfinger, whom the AAA won with 500 US dollars plus 25 US dollars for travel and other expenses. He scored the only touchdown of the game. You have to keep in mind that around 130 years ago, US $ 525 was equivalent to several thousand US dollars in today's currency. As it later turned out, the PAA had offered at least $ 250. From the comparatively small banter, however, the awareness developed that clubs would pay money for the really outstanding players who could decide a match almost on their own.

Thus, the first step to professional football was taken: Individual universities, clubs and other associations began to pay their best players a salary. At that time it was between 50 and 500 US dollars for the very best players on the field - a salary that could not even begin to be earned with "normal" jobs at the time.

American football and its first scandal

The first big problem in American football was not from the alcoholism of individual players, but from the rules themselves: In 1892, Lorin F. Deland introduced a wedge formation for attacking players called the Flying Wedge. Some players hooked each other's arms and ran towards the line of scrimmage, blocking all other players on the defending team. This formation has been banned since 1894 because it caused a large number of players to suffer serious injuries or even die on the field. In 1905 - eleven years after the ban - a total of 18 players died from the Flying Wedge.

The then President Roosevelt - himself a big fan of American football - no longer wanted to watch this and therefore forced changes to the rules. You have to consider: There was practically no equipment at all, until the said year 1905 most players (if at all) only played with a leather cap on, which was more bad than good protection against injuries.

From now on it went faster: in 1912 the American Football rules practically corresponded to the current version with some deviations in detail. The forward pass introduced a change that clearly separated the game from the much more body-hugging rugby. The points for a scored touchdown have also been increased to six, in previous years the number fluctuated between two and five points.

During this time the size of the playing field was changed again: The 120 yards for the length and 53 yards for the width (about 109.73 meters and 48.46 meters) owe their dimensions to the playing field from Harvard, which henceforth serves as a template for served other football fields across the country. The introduction of the end zones - also in 1912 - marked another important point in the development of the game.

American football on the way to the modern age

In 1920 the major universities and other important organs of sport agreed to professionalize American football in a league of its own. For a short time this league was known as the American Professional Football Association, but in 1922 it was renamed the National Football League, or NFL, which is known to this day.

It was now clearly about making the game much better known and making money with it. At the beginning, however, the careers of many teams in the NFL fizzled out: in the first decade of the NFL, new teams were added, disappeared a short time later and, due to the low level of play, didn't promise much good anyway. Of all the teams that were in that early stage of the NFL, only two teams remain today: today's Arizona Cardinals (known then as the Chicago Cardinals) and the Chicago Bears, formerly known as the Decatur Staleys.

Unlike today, colored players were an exception, especially in these first decades: between 1933 and 1945, for example, not a single dark-skinned player was active in the NFL. The team owners at that time even christened this renunciation of what, from today's point of view, is extremely cynical and racist name Gentlemen’s Agreement. In the late 1950s, after the end of World War II, this arrangement was dissolved and black players made an extremely successful entry into the NFL that continues to this day.

The first NFL drafts took place in 1936. On February 8, it was Jay Berwanger that the Philadelphia Eagles picked. In the end he almost ended up with the aforementioned Chicago Bears, which ultimately failed because of Berwanger's salary expectations: 25,000 US dollars for two years was too much for the team and so Berwanger never played in the NFL. Of course, he still retains the title of the first drafted player in history.

American football today

The widespread arrival of television in US households in the 1960s marked an important milestone. Suddenly American football was open to an audience of millions. Sponsorship funds rose rapidly, and the teams also benefited from funds for the broadcast rights. In the mid-1970s, American football grew to be the most important sport in the United States to this day. Since 1973, individual players have been assigned fixed jersey numbers and in 1976 the NFL expanded the league to 28 individual teams.During this time, it happened in rapid succession, so that, among other things, the expansion to 16 instead of 14 match days took place in the next few years, and wireless microphones for referees were added in 1975, which made communication between referees easier.

American football was now spreading abroad: on August 17, 1976, two US teams met in Japan for the first time in Tokyo. The Super Bowl, which has existed in the form known today since 1967, has also grown in popularity to this day and is now the most important and by far the largest sporting event in the USA.

Today's teams would be unrecognizable compared to the pioneers of 1890: The equipment consists of high-tech plastics that are both light and extremely break-proof. Chest protectors, neck protectors and especially helmets with face grids made of titanium or similar metals are so stable that injuries are now only the exception and no longer the rule.

In Germany, American football is still far less popular than football, for example, but that doesn't prevent our country from producing great players as well: Sebastian Vollmer and Markus Koch are two big names, with the New England Patriots and the Washington Redkins managed to win the Super Bowl several times - good prospects for a growing rise of the sport in this country too.