Football season is here! Tailgating, ice cold beer and hot dogs grilling, hamburgers baking, Sunday afternoons at stadiums, friendly rivalry among friends, family and co-workers, cheerleaders, and Sunday afternoons at the field all signify one thing: football season. Football has evolved from a sport that killed players and was not widely watched to one that is viewed by millions. Millions of TV sets are tuned in to different games to follow the National Football League (NFL), and hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on stadium food, merchandise and tickets each year. Millions of children find a role model in football players every year.
Many football fans don’t know much about the history of football. On November 6, 1869, the first college or university game was played between Princeton and Rutgers. Each team had 20 players, which is too many for modern-day fans. This type of play was more like a Rugby game rather than a football game. In 1873, college football rules were created. They limited the number of players to 15, instead of the usual 20. Safety of the players was a major concern and the main reason for the reduction in the number of players on the field. This concern is still a concern today.
Walter Camp, a strong proponent of the game, wanted only 11 players on the field at once. He eventually got his way, and the number of players was reduced to 11. Camp played a major role in changing football so it looked like the game we know today. Camp created a system that counted the number of attempts it took for a team to move a ball 5 yards. These he called downs. He then limited each team’s attempt to three downs every five yards. The ball was awarded to the opposing team if they failed to move the ball within the allowed time limit. This was known as a turnover. Over time, this also changed. In 1906, the yardage required to meet was reduced to 10 yards. In 1912, the fourth down was added to allow players more time to complete those ten yards. This rule is still in use today.
In its early years, this sport was very rough. One year of college play saw 180 injuries that were serious enough to require a doctor’s consultation. There were also 18 players who died. Due to these deaths and injuries, the game was reduced from 70 minutes to 60 minutes. To prevent intentional rough play, the rules were live score changed and a buffer zone was established between teams to keep them apart.