American Football

Short History

     Early American football can trace its beginnings back to early versions of football and rugby. In 1869 game between Rutgers and Princeton University is hailed as the first college football game, although it was nothing like the game we know today. The game evolved and eventually became popular as a college sport. Variations of the game were adopted by many north-eastern colleges of the era, and an early effort at standardisation was made when the Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA) was established in 1873. The first modernized game was in 1875 between Harvard and Tufts University. However a number of colleges retained their own rules, intercollegiate matches led to rules being borrowed and swapped between institutions.
     Walter Camp, a player and coach of Yale University, often known as the ‘father of American football’, successfully proposed a new rule in 1882, and the schools began to adopt the rules. This change effectively made American football a separate sport from rugby. However, the violent physical challenge that the game demanded, caused many serious injuries and deaths in the next few years. As a result, football was banned in many colleges. In 1905, under a directive from President Theodore Roosevelt, who wanted to abolish the game unless major changes were made, 62 colleges met in New York CIty and formed Rules Committee (the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)). The game achieved its modern form by 1912.
     Many athletic clubs in the 1880s offered many indirect benefits to player to participate in a game. The first fully professional game followed in 1895, when the Pennsylvania based teams Latrobe Athletic Association and Jeannette Athletic Club met. In 1897, the Latrobe Athletic Association paid all of its players for the whole season, becoming the first fully professional team. The need for regulated player transfers led to the creation of the American Professional Football Association in 1920 (from 1922 the National Football League (NFL)). The American Football League (AFL) opened business in 1960, the first Super Bowl, between the champions of the NFL and AFL was played in 1967, and the leagues merged in 1970.
     Although American football is the most popular sport in the US, it has developed relatively slowly in the rest of the world, but it is currently making huge strides. In 1983 was founded the European Federation American Football (EFAF), and the same year was held the first European Championship in Italy. The world federation was born in 1998 in France called the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), and already in 1999, the first World Championship in Italy was held. The American team did not participate in the World Cup until 2007. American football was featured in the Summer Olympic Games demonstration programme in 1904 and 1932.