American football is undeniably one of the highly held sports in North America. The sport is known as ‘tackle football’ or ‘gridiron’ in English speaking countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. It is quite a thrilling sport to watch and play since it involves both physical and mental brilliance. American football is mainly played in the United States and Canada. However, other parts of the world have started embracing the sport and advancing very well. The game is played in the form of professional and college football. Other popular forms of American football are played in high school and youth football levels.
The sport was given the name “football” in the 1876 college league tournament season. It was the first time the game’s style of play was changed from soccer to rugby-inspired style. While it could have been named “rugby,” Harvard, which was the leading proponent of the rugby-inspired style, did not recommend the name.
American Football involves two teams with eleven players playing against each other on a rectangular field with goalposts at both ends. The team’s offense with the oval-shaped ball attempts to run past the opponents by passing to teammates. The defending team will also try to stop them and regain possession to outrun and earn points. Usually, the offense attempts to advance at least 10 yards in 4 downs or plays. Read on to understand more about how the game is played and how one can benefit from participating.
History of American Football
American football was born in the United States of America. The creators of this game got their inspiration from soccer and rugby games. The first game of this sport was played in November of 1869. Rutgers and Princeton were the very first college teams to play American Football while observing soccer-style rules. Walter Camp is regarded as the “Founding father of American Football.” He came up with a written set of rules to guide the game in 1880. Among the rules were the snap, the number of players, the line of scrimmage, and the idea of downs.
Later on, the forward pass was legalized, among other guidelines like the neutral zone and the size and shape of the ball being used. American Football is also similar to Canadian football. The two games evolved almost at the same though Canadian Football’s Rules were created independently.
There are currently more than a million athletes who are actively involved in the game annually at different levels in the United States. The National Football League or NFL is the highest level of playing American football. NFL witnesses the highest attendance than any other professional sports at the highest level in the world. The super bowl is among the most viewed sporting events. Several different professional leagues exist worldwide, but the game is not the primary sport outside Canada and the United States.
The first professional player to play this game was Pudge Heffelfinger. He was paid around $500 to play for Allegheny Athletic Association against Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Over time, more professional players came into the game. As it advanced, the athletes’ salaries and random transfer from one team to another became common.
As time advanced, more challenges started facing the sport. This called for the creation of an organized body to govern and help solve these problems. And in the year 1920, the National Football League (NFL) was established. The first successful NFL Championship game was held in 1958 between Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. The Colts got the victory in front of millions of television viewers. American is the game that ushered the Professional Era on a whole different level. Later in 1960, the AFL tried to challenge the NFL’s dominance, but it failed. The game has since then been spreading to other parts of the world, including Europe and Australia.
The objective of American Football
The main object of the game is to earn more points than the challengers within the stipulated time. To achieve this, the offense should always move the football down the field in phases before reaching the end zone for a touchdown. A player can achieve this by directly throwing the football to a teammate or by running with it.
Every team has four chances to move with the ball forward for 10 yards. After passing the 10 yards, their options (downs) reset. If they fail to pass after four downs, the football is turned over to the defending team.
Teams and positions
As aforementioned, the American Football game involves 22 athletes with 11 players in each team. The teams are allowed to substitute players between the downs. The number of substitutes is not limited as in the past. All players must have their uniforms designed with numbers ranging between 1 and 99.
No woman has played in the National Football League. However, more women are playing the game at high school, college, and professional football levels than before. Women are being encouraged to participate in the game. For instance, in 2015, Sarah Thomas became the first NFL female official. It was quite encouraging for young female athletes who want to be part of this great game.
Basics of American Football
The main aim of every team is to move with the ball to the opponent’s end zone. It is achieved by running with the football or throwing it down the field to another teammate.
- A touchdown (when the offense crosses the opponent’s goal line with the ball) has 6 points.
- A field score has three points.
- You can earn an extra point by kicking the football between the uprights after a touchdown.
- The offense can earn two points by placing the ball at the ‘end zone’ again.
- Two points are awarded to the defending team for safety when the offensive team member is tackled with the football in their own ‘end zone.’
Countries where the game is thriving
The game is most popular in the U.S. and Canada. However, more people are getting interested in the game every year. Here are the countries where the game is popular outside of North America:
- Great Britain
Benefits of American Football
If you are interested in being part of this beautiful game, you need to know some of the benefits you will get. Here are the reasons why you should persist in playing American Football:
- Stress reliever – this can help you to get out of your stress zone. Playing American football promotes an adrenaline rush. With that level of intensity, you have no time for depression.
- Promotes your work ethic – American football is a very tough game. You need to develop physically and mentally to compete at the highest level. It allows you to put work and dedication, promoting a personal need to work intensively to achieve things.
- Overall body workout – Going to the gym can be boring at times. Playing American Football requires you to be fit. And so you will have a reason to work out and stay healthy for the game.
- Promotes cardio – The game involves aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Playing this game is the quickest way to cut body fat.
- Promotes better bone health – playing football helps to improve your body strength and bone density.
- Promotes healthy teamwork and unity