Tidbistories: Football! Football! Football!
Crisp, autumn air and a cheering crowd full of painted faces can only mean one thing. It’s September and it’s football season!
Right now, everyone from little tykes to junior high and high school, college, and professional football players are geared up and hitting the gridiron in full force.
Today is September 17th. On this day in 1920, the American Professional Football Association was formed, the former name of the NFL (National Football League), in Canton, Ohio. The legendary Jim Thorpe was named the first president of this new league of teams. But, as we all know, football has been played since well before 1920.
So, when was the American version of football invented?
Who invented it?
Football, or “American Football” as it is known throughout the world, has deep roots stretching way back to the 1800’s when it was a cross between rugby and soccer. In the early years of football in America, it was a mostly unorganized sport with very few rules and a lot of violence. It wasn’t until the 19th century when people started playing it on college campuses. Even then, there were still very few rules. This extremely dangerous style of football was known as “mob football.”
In the middle 1800’s, colleges and universities started banning football from being played on their fields because of the violent nature of the sport. This did not stop people from playing the game, however. As football began to evolve by means of rules and the way it was played, schools began to allow it back on campus.
It wasn’t until Walter Camp, a Yale graduate, came up with certain rules for the game beginning in 1878. Mr. Camp is considered to be the “Father of American Football.” Many of modern day football’s rules and regulations can be contributed to him. He is considered to be the most important figure in the development of football and the way it is played to this day.
Because of these new rules and regulations, college football had become one of the most popular sports to be played and watched. In 1880, only 8 colleges had football teams. But by 1900, the number of colleges and universities offering football had grown to 43!
Despite rules and regulations, football was still a very dangerous sport. So dangerous and violent, in fact, that President Theodore Roosevelt (an early fan of the game) held a meeting with football representatives from Yale, Harvard, and Princeton to discuss ways to make the game safer for those who played. This meeting, in 1905, was called because of the large number of injuries and fatalities resulting from football games that year alone.
After reforming the game, the year 1906 saw a safer and more civilized football. In the early 20th century, football’s popularity began to spread to the masses. It seemed almost every community or region had a “favorite” team or club to root for.
Many of these clubs began hiring players to play on their teams bringing forth the “professional” football player. A few professional leagues were formed during this time, but it wasn’t until 1920 when this level of football started to become the game it is today.
On September 17th, 1920, at a car dealership in Canton, Ohio, the American Professional Football Association was formed naming Jim Thorpe it‘s first president. The reason this association was formed was to help enforce rules, regulations, standards, and practices for professional football teams and their owners. It was basically an agreement between teams to play fair and then to determine the champion at the end of the season.
In 1921, there was a total of 22 teams who signed up to play under the American Professional Football Association. In the years to follow, football saw many changes and a tremendous amount of growth in popularity.
One year later on June 24th, 1922, the APFA changed it’s name to the National Football League. The rest is history!
Today, there are 32 teams in the National Football League. The teams range from coast to coast and border to border. The NFL is arguably the most popular professional sport in the United States, surpassing our “national past time” of baseball. Sorry, Baseball, we still love you though!
If the weather is nice where you are today, you should think about grabbing that ol’ football and tossing it around in honor of the American Professional Football Association!