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History Behind the National Football League

The founding of the National Football League vastly impacted the social culture of Americans. It achieved this because of the Americans love and pride for games and competition, the rise of popularity of football throughout America, especially in colleges and high school, the works of the television, the rise of talent of athletes, the commencement of paying athletes and splitting of the NFL into two divisions. (A rivalry within a rivalry separated by regions of the United States.)

In the Eastern United States, a game very similar to soccer was invented and played during the mid-1800s. It consisted of 30 or more players. The object of the game was to kick a ball across the other team’s goal line. This game was becoming extraordinarily popular, and additional stricter rules were being applied to this game. This game was called football. In this game, two teams played, and both teams had different rules on playing it. One by McGill’s rule, and the other by Harvard’s rule. Harvard’s rules were more like soccer, and McGill’s rules were more like rugby. Running with the ball and tackling were the prime reasons why this game was introduced to, not just Harvard, but other Eastern Colleges all over the United States.

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Improving the game was the first priority at this time. As this rugby-style football became popular, Walter Camp played a major role in developing rules that increased action and competition for this game.

“ Camp was largely responsible for establishing the system of downs and yards to gain and for introducing the centre snap to the quarterback. He also helped set up the scoring system in which touchdowns, conversions, field goals, and safeties were worth different amounts of points.” (365) The love and pride for the game developed and so did a competition. High schools and Colleges organized teams, and competition increased. As a matter of fact competition was getting so large that the sport was turning violent and dangerous due to the lack of protection from tackling and blocking. Since players suffered severe injuries due to the lack of adequate equipment and no helmets, Theodore Roosevelt stressed that changes had to be made in order to make this a safer game.

The founding of the game “football” was developed in the mid 1800s but was not really organized until the 1920’s. “ On September 17, 1920, a group of men gathered in Canton, Ohio at the Hupmobile showroom of Ralph Hay, owner of the hometown Bulldogs. The result of the meeting brought the birth of the National Football League.” (Profootball)

Pro Football began in 1892, when William “Pudge” Heffelfinger, a former Yale star, was paid a sum of $500 to play in a single game for the Allegheny Athletic Associate on November 12, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This game marked the beginning of professional football. In 1920 the name of the APFA (American Professional Football Association) was later changed to the NFL (National Football League) due to the organization of the sport.

In 1925, professional football began to attract many fans and supporters by signing and paying great athletes to play on their teams. This sport would eventually draw more than 350,000 fans to come to watch the games that year. Television also played a major role in attracting people and making money. “TV networks paid millions of dollars to televise the games.” (367) To this day, television continues to play a major role in hosting football events, such as the Super Bowl, which is an annual televised event around the world.

By the 1930s the NFL was divided into two divisions, the Western Division, and the Eastern Division. The champions of each Division would play for the first world professional football title. By the mid 1940’s the All-American Football Conference was formed, and it consisted of an eight-team league, then it was a 13-team league after the NFL merge. Finally the AFL, (American Football League) an eight-team league that was formed in the 1960’s decided to merge with the NFL after six years to form the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

The founding of the National Football League has impacted the United States social culture. Football is not only a fun sport to play, but its one of the most, if not the most popular and helpful sports of Americans today. Many people agreed that playing sports, especially football, builds character, teaches teamwork, makes one learn how to win and lose, teaches discipline, and keeps younger and older children off the streets. Millions and millions of Americans go to watch football games ever year, and always watch football on Sundays. It’s almost like a tradition for some. The love and pride for the game will always be in many hearts of not just in the National Football League, but in High schools, Colleges, and muddy fields everywhere.

Works Cited

Carroll, Bob. “Football.” World Book Encyclopedia, F, 365-368. Chicago: World Book Inc. 1999.



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History Behind the National Football League. (2021, Mar 13). Retrieved August 2, 2021, from