American football evolved from the sports of association football (soccer) and rugby football. Rugby football, like American football, is a sport where two competing teams vie for control of a ball, which can be kicked through a set of goalposts or run into the opponent’s goal area to score points. What is considered to be the first American football game was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton, two college teams.
The professional era (2008â€”2013)
On November 12, 1892, when William “Pudge” Heffelfinger was paid $500 to play a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association in a match against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. This is the first recorded instance of a player being paid to participate in a game of American football, although many athletic clubs in the 1880s offered indirect benefits, such as helping players attain employment, giving out trophies or watches.
A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football”, established the snap, eleven-player teams, and the concept of downs; later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone, and specified the size and shape of the football.
American football as a whole is the most popular sport in the United States; professional football and college football are the most popular forms of the game, with the other major levels being high school and youth football.
Evolution of the game (2002â€”2008)
The introduction of the snap resulted in unexpected consequences. Prior to the snap, the strategy had been to punt if a scrum resulted in bad field position. However, a group of Princeton players realized that, as the snap was uncontested, they now could hold the ball indefinitely to prevent their opponent from scoring. In 1881, both teams in a game between Yale-Princeton used this strategy to maintain their undefeated records.