Where Did Football Come From?

Are you ready for some football? For millions of loyal fans, the answer to that question is, “Yes!” During football season millions of fans turn out for the weekly games in person or on TV. The great thing about football is that no matter what town you’re in, you’ll always find a group of fans who are rooting for your team. As you fire up the chick wings and melt the nacho cheese, you might be asking yourself, “Where did football come from?” Here’s the answer:

Mob Rules

If you were to go back into Native American history, then you would find some mentions of a game involving teams moving a ball from one end of a field to another. However, in America the early versions of football were known as mob football. These were games that were brought over from Europe and there weren’t a lot of rules. Basically, one team had to get a ball past another team. That meant a lot of shoving, pushing, punching, kicking and biting. This was long before pads and helmets.

Most of these mob football games were played on college campuses. Princeton had a version called “ballown” that was being played as early as 1820. Over at Harvard, they began a tradition in 1927 called “Bloody Monday.” That was when there would be a massive mob football game between the freshman and sophomores. By 1860, things had gotten so out of hand with this game that is was banned from campus.

The Boston Game

While many college campuses were banning the violent mob version, several prep schools adapted the kicking and carrying games solidified by the English Football Association. This was the organization that tried to bring order to the sport. As the rules were being formed, several members of the FA balked. They left and started their own sport that became rugby. That looks a lot like mob football!

By 1862, the Boston Game came into being. This was organized by the Oneida Football Club that was formed by grads from those Boston prep schools. Soon, the rules of the game spread and the Ivy League colleges began to play this version of “civilized” football.

The Reform Movement

Just because the college teams were following rules didn’t mean the violence receded. In 1905, there were 19 deaths attributed to playing football. President Teddy Roosevelt threaten to shut the whole thing down unless changes were made. New rules were adopted including the huge game changer of making the forward pass legal. Up until then, players could only make small lateral passes. These new rules ushered in the era of professional football.

The National Football League was formed in 1920. There were several upstart leagues that didn’t last very long until the American Football League came along in 1960. With television contracts and draft picks at stake, the NFL saw the writing on the wall. They merged with the AFL started a little thing called the Super Bowl in 1966. We all know how that turned out.

So, if you’re wondering where football came from, it all started on college campuses were mob rule was the rule of the day. Who are you rooting for this year?