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Football: at the turn of century

Without question, football is the most popular sport in America. Football is also a sport that is enjoyed all over the world by people of all ages. Football is also an activity that the family can all enjoy as for example, dad can play with his son on a Sunday team. Mom and sister can watch, or the whole family can go out on Saturday to watch college football or on Sunday for the big pro games. Football can bring people together if all of them love the game. However, the example above is just the fan s point of view; there are a lot more than just the game of football that helped to form the leagues and build today is football. College and professional football had developed so much that by the turn of the century; football became one of the most popular sports in America.

Football had been formed for more than 100 years but during that time it was just a fun game where everyone could play.

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Professional football is more than 100 years old, but for its first 50-odd years the sport was the sad-sack cousin of college football. (Peterson 3)

Football developed from rugby and soccer began 1820 at Princeton University which first football was known as ballown. The football s rule at the time was totally different from modern-day football. During that time football was such a brutal sport because it has no set rules; the only rule was to be set by the home team. Football started to get serious was when the colleges began to play them competitively in the 1880s. That was also the time that football rules have a major change by the Yale undergraduate, Walter Camp. Walter provided the new set of organized rules in football; which is a lot safer than before. He has also introduced the quarterback position, which is now one of the most important positions in football. (History of American football 1)

The field of play was 110 yards apart from each goal line. The field has no end zone. There is one line on each side at the end of the field called in goal lines. There was no forward past allowing in the game. The goalposts were located at the end of each side; it about 18 and a half feet apart the crossbar was 10 feet high on the goal line. At the time the game was still similar to rugby. When the game later got popular and more fans came in to see the game, each club and university began to build their own stands and stadiums. (Peterson 16)

College football began to get more serious than before as the rivalry between colleges grew bigger. Colleges that were into the seriousness of football were Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Rutgers, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and McGill University of Montreal. (Peterson 13) Later many colleges began to join the Ivy League in which all the team members were student-athletes. In 1890 college football began to expand westward to schools such as Washington and Jefferson, Ohio State, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and many of the colleges there began to play football that year. Notre Dame started in 1887, and the University of Southern California in 1888. (Peterson 14) There were a lot of differences between the new form teams and the one that was already there.

But quality football first-rate football IMPORTANT football was the exclusive preserve of four schools: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and a school that was just coming up to football par with the first three, Pennsylvania. It was not sectional chauvinism at work when 129 out of 132 All-America berths between 1889 and 1900 were filled by players from those four schools. The best players were really there. (PFRA Research 8)

This Ivy League idea was the starting point of the professional Football league but people had not yet realized it. As the games were being, played there was little support from the local fans. At the time, baseball was by far the most popular sport in town. People would rather go and see baseball than a football game. That was long before the formation of the National Football League (NFL) which formed in 1920. (Peterson 3)

Starting around 1892 the only way for a man to play football professionally was to go to college or join the Athletics club. In colleges, the players were needed to study as well as play football, and for some people, it was quite difficult to get into the colleges. The other way was that if scouts had spotted players while the players were in their high school. If they were good enough the players will get recruited to join the colleges. (Peterson 16)

Athletic clubs were at the bottom of the social clubs’ ranking. During that time if a person gains a place in a social club that was the starting point of moving up in to higher places in society.

The infancy of professional football: Membership in them was generally the first step toward gaining admission in the more exclusive Union Leagues and University Clubs or the top-level Metropolitan Men s Clubs (Peterson 23)

Later the social event became more of an issue for athletic clubs so the restriction of getting except into the clubs was even more difficult. As the result, the clubs were losing a lot of matches in the sports events. The clubs realize that they would not be able to get good players into the club and people would prefer to talk to winners than to the losers. If the clubs still kept the old routine the club would not go far at all. As the result, they changed the rules by a recruit in the players as second-class citizens in the club which mean that players would not be able to hold office or vote in club elections but could use the club facility.

Professional football began with the illegal payment to the players in the Ivy League of 1889. During the season, when there was big news about a couple of players were taking some money to play matches; which this money was not existing in the original program of the college. Those colleges were Princeton and Harvard who later admitted have given money to some players to play in some matches and their excuses were those players were professional. (Peterson 27) Clearly, the era of football was growing, as professionalism became more of an issue than the love of the game itself.

The first pro-player to play the professional game was Pudge Heffelfinger who used to play at Yale. The real first event of pro-football came about when the rivalry between Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC) and Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA) got stronger in 1892 than ever because both teams were from Pittsburgh and both wanted to prove who was the best in town. After the regular-season game, both teams were tied at 6 to 6 as a result both teams had arranged a match to play each other again. When the rematch date had been fixed both teams started their preparations. (Peterson 27)

First, the PAC approached Heffelfiger for $250 to play for them. When the matchday arrived, the PAC players were surprised as they saw three new players in the AAA lineup. One was Heffelfiger with Ben Donnelly from Princeton and Ed Malley from Michigan. All of these players were considered dangerous. According to the AAA s expense sheet, Heffelfinger was paid $500 as a performance bonus; he has also received $75 for expenses. During the time these wages were very high for a football player. The other two received $25 each, which was considered a basic wage for a player during the turn of the century. (Peterson 29)

The number of Football s fans began to increase after 1891 as baseball s second major league went out of business that year. The situation was very bad for everyone such as the fans, club owners and the players. When the football season in Pittsburgh started the three newspapers refused to print the news about the local club’s teams because the athletic clubs need to pay them money for advertising. As a result football s fans took more notice of the sport because they had to be alert of when their team was playing and also where the team was playing at. (The A s have it. PFRA Research 1)

The first professional League was called The Amateur Athletic Union, AAU formed in 1888. Many teams in the league were from the east coasts such as Manhattan Athletic Club, the Orange Athletic Club in Jersey, the Crescent Club in Brooklyn, the Staten Island Club, and the Knickerbocker all from New York. (Peterson 24) In Pittsburgh, there was the rivalry of the Allegheny Athletic Association, AAA, and Pittsburgh Athletic Club.

There were other teams like a local prep school named Shadyside academy, Western University of Pennsylvania, Altoona Athletic club, Greensburg Athletic Association, and Johnstown Athletic club. However, even the best team in this league was the AAA but it was no match to any teams in the Ivy League at that time. (Peterson 25)

Games of football were not always friendly especially for color players; they were the victims of harassment on and off the fields. Black players were not really welcome in the big football league but they were involved in many minor leagues. When the NFL was formed in 1920 there were few black players but 1933 had somehow excluded them. (Peterson 169) Ever since 1884 black players were always being treated as second-class citizens. The summary here was what white people thought of the black players during that time.

: One-third of all big leaguers was Southerners who would not take the field with a black player.

: Black players could not travel with a big-league club because hotels and restaurants would not accommodate them.

: The clubs trained in the South, where blacks and whites were forbidden by law to play together.

: Fans might riot in the stands if there were trouble on the field between white and black players.

: Blacks were not good enough to play in the big leagues anyway. (Peterson 171).

That was very much clear of the reason there weren’t many black players playing in major sports events except their own. Racist is the main issue but because at that time some white players could not bare to see black players or as their former slaves to do better than them in sport. The other main reason was that during the play black players seem to get more blows than the white players got both before and after the whistle. So that was the reason why black players get injured a lot more than white players. (Peterson 171)

In the 1880s players did not wear a lot of protective gear. They only wear stiff canvas outfits laced up the front, called Smocks. That uniform was not very protective for the players at all. Later in 1890, many teams had changed their gear into soft felt Moleskin trousers and turtleneck sweaters. The players did not even have body pads and helmets but Yale was seen to have different ideas.

Pads of any kind were rare, and helmets were in the future. The Yale team somewhat compensated for this in 1890 by appearing crowned by extra long hair, a kind of natural headgear. The idea soon spread, and throughout the 90s football players could be recognized on campuses by their shoulder-length locks. The protection offered by long hair was questionable, but it certainly added a new dimension to tackling. (PFRA Research 7)

Later another padding appeared at Princeton by Edgar A.Poe.

Edgar A. Poe (a reputed descendant of the poet), showed up for the Yale game wearing a nose guard, a piece of molded rubber covering the Poe proboscis. After much discussion over the novel device, he was allowed to play with a protected beak. By 1898, some schools were equipping every player with a nose guard, usually with a mouthpiece attached. (PFRA Research 7)

All of this padding was necessary as the play got even more brutal than ever with the introduction of low tackling because players who left the field with injuries were normally out for good. So it was best to protect players as well as the goal. During the time there were not many reserve players available. For example, the 1888 Yale team played thirteen games with eleven players and one reserve; which was really magnificent as nobody was injured during that thirteen games. (PEFRA Research 7)

Football had made a lot of difference at the turn of the century. It has given people a lot of opportunities like money, the chance to move up in social classes or to get into big-name colleges, and more. In some cases, football ended the racist between color and white players. In 1900 football still developing and moving there were new talented players being born every day. In the future, I believe football will be developed even more and it will have more fans than any other sport in America.

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