Monday, 17 Jun 2024

Why is American Football Called Football When they Carry the Ball?

In the world of sports, the origins of a game’s name can often be traced back to its history and evolution. This is the case with American Football, a sport that may leave many wondering why it is called “football” when the players predominantly carry the ball. Let’s delve into the fascinating history of this sport to understand how it acquired its unique name.

The Origins of Rugby Football

During the 19th century, British public schools engaged in a variety of ball games akin to today’s soccer and rugby. These games shared similarities such as two teams and a ball, but there were significant differences in rules, including how players could use their hands and tackle opponents. This lack of uniformity prompted several major schools to convene in 1863, agreeing upon a set of standardized rules. This collective effort formed the basis of what is now known as Association Football, or soccer.

However, a minority of schools dissented, particularly Rugby School. They believed that the new game lacked the physicality they desired. Consequently, they formulated their own set of rules which allowed for more handling of the ball, tougher tackling, and the use of an oblong shape ball that could be thrown more easily. This alternate version of the game became Rugby Football, or simply Rugby.

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The Spread of Rugby Football to America

Like soccer, rugby gained popularity and spread across the globe, including the United States. However, unlike soccer, rugby experienced numerous interpretations of the game. This was exemplified by the split between maintaining amateur status and playing professionally in the UK, resulting in the division between the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League. Other variations of the game were played in the USA.

In 1869, Rutgers University and Princeton played a game which featured two teams of 25 players using a round ball. However, this ball could not be picked up or carried, but players could kick or strike it with their hands and feet to score goals. Different American colleges continued to play by their own rules until representatives from Yale, Princeton, Rutgers, and Columbia convened to establish a standardized set of rules, which included the prohibition of carrying the ball.

The Foundation of American Football

The game began to evolve into what we now know as American Football following a match between Harvard and Yale in 1875. Officials from Princeton observed this game and noticed its similarities to the original game of Rugby Football. It was under these rules that the main US colleges eventually adopted, leading to the modern sport of American Football. Yale player Walter Camp played a significant role in shaping the sport during this time, earning him the title of the “father of American Football.”

The Name ‘American Football’

The name of American Football does not directly refer to the fact that it is primarily played with the feet. While kicking does play a role in the sport, its name stems from its origins as an evolved form of Rugby Football. Over time, American Football has become distinct from its British counterpart, transforming into a unique and highly popular sport in the United States.

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In conclusion, American Football’s name represents its history and evolution, rather than a literal description of the game itself. Its roots can be traced back to the development of Rugby Football, which eventually led to the establishment of standardized rules for American universities. From there, the sport continued to evolve into the exciting and widely loved game we know today.