American Football: How it All Began

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Every year, millions of people around the world anticipate watching Super Bowl Sunday but don’t know anything about its origins. Most Americans consider it a “holy day” where families and friends unite to support their favorite teams. While the teams huddle up and the fans booed and cheered, food merchants, especially the pizza parlor owners, are enjoying a boost in sales all because a tackle game with an inflated cow bladder evolved into one of the most-loved American games of all time.


If you travel back to 11th century England, you will find hundreds of men clashing over this primitive ball just to deliver it into their goal post – the middle of their opponent’s town. The physical aggression of the game was much worse back then that injuries and even deaths were common. Today, even with clear rules and the wearing of improved protective clothing, lasting injuries from this smash-mouth game are still common. In fact, there is a very rare chance for a quarterback or a running back to make it through the entire season without injuries. Sadly, helmets which are supposed to protect the players from getting a concussion have now become deadly weapons. Moreover, players are also in danger of dehydration since the season starts early September when it is still too hot and humid.

Despite the dangers, lockouts and the changes in the sport itself, American football remains a people’s favorite. Walter Camp, the Father of American Football was the first man to make modifications in this rugby-like sport. From the original 15 players, he lowered it down to the 11 players known today. He was also the reason why there is quarterback and a center player as well as the existence of the line of scrimmage. In the past, the possession of the ball is just like in a soccer game. Now with the line of scrimmage, the offensive team will maintain possession as long as they don’t commit any violations. In addition he also created the safety, penalties, interference and the neutral zone. Other relevant names in football include Knute Rockne, Gleen Warner, Eddie Cochems and Amos Alonzo Stagg. The latter created the popular football huddle, the T and punt formations and the end round. With Stagg’s number ranges, you can now easily tell which one of the players are quarterbacks, linebackers and whatnot.

American Football has changed over the years. In the past, you can never run the ball with your hands as it is strictly played with the feet just like soccer. Tackling the opponent as low as the knee was not even permitted until 1888. There was even a time when you can only hit, dribble or kick, but never throw or run the ball to make a touchdown. But with the addition of forward pass and the modifications with the rules and regulations, you can now enjoy a sometimes bloody but worthwhile sport.  So the next time you watch Super Bowl Sunday and a child next to you ask how it all began; do you have the right answers?