For a nation full of sports lovers, football was bound to emerge as the national favorite. This tough game emerged from early types of soccer and rugby football as played initially in the UK in the 19th century. Over the years, the game got the unique flavor of America and metamorphosed into the football that we know today.
It was Walter Camp, who is credited with being responsible for the game as it is today, for it was he who made the very important and critical changes to rugby and made it what it is today. He started the all important line of scrimmage and the down and distance rules. As coaches and players gained more experience with the game, better rules developed that helped regulate the sport and made it into a national event.
The First Pro
Professional football, with contracts running into multiple millions had a modest beginning in 1892 when William Hefffelfinger won a contract to play for Allegheny Athletic Association. William was paid $500 and it was a princely sum by the standards of the time. However, professional football has never been the same since and the game has only grown larger with time.
The American Professional Football Association came into being in 1920. Eventually, this changed into the NFL as we know it today, but not before it got into a huge struggle for survival with the American Football League. Eventually, the two merged and the NFL now the sole league in America and the Super Bowl enjoys the single largest TV viewership in the country.
Huge money is invested in the game. Every stadium that is built costs hundreds of millions. TV rights pay a lot of the money that is required, but many cities also take great pride in their teams and contribute very substantially in the infrastructure that is required. Every year, once the Super Bowl gets over, the teams get to draft rookie players who have just started coming onto the professional scene. The NFL draft is a complex process that decides what the new players get paid and also helps the teams that have not done so well get the first pick of the new players.
Ronald Regan once called football the last activity in the civilized world where it is permitted to charge at fellowmen and tackle to bring them down. Many people couldn't agree more. The game does get a little violent, the protective clothing does get better with time but every year there are a few deaths that can be directly attributed to the game. Elaborate rules are made to protect players but injuries have now become a part of a game and it is a rare player who will not have to take some time off for injury.
NFL tickets often seem to be priced way too high. An average tickets costs more than $50. If you add parking, snacks and beverages, you are looking at $75 or more. The declining viewers have caused worry to some teams and a movement is underway to reduce the ticket cost.
Whether you watch your football live or on the telly, there is no doubt that the national pastime is here to stay. Football is associated with a way of life that is uniquely American.
Reed writes many articles on Sports at Sports Tickets 411 which is a great resource for football especially.