American football American football, known in the United States simply as football, is a competitive team sport known for its physical roughness despite being a highly strategic game. The object of the game is to score points by advancing the pointed-oval shaped ball into the opposing team's end zone. The ball can be advanced by carrying it (a running play) or by throwing it to a teammate (a passing play). Points can be scored in a variety of ways, including carrying the ball over the goal line, throwing the ball to another player past the goal line, tackling an opposing ball carrier in his own end zone, or kicking the ball through the goal posts on the opposing side. The winner is the team with the most points when the time expires and the last play ends. Outside the United States, the sport is referred to as American football (or a translation thereof) to differentiate it from other football codes. In Australia and New Zealand the game is known as Gridiron football, although in the United States the term gridiron refers only to the playing field itself. Contents [hide] * 1 Organization of Football in the United States o 1.1 Professional/Semi-Professional o 1.2 University/Collegiate o 1.3 High School o 1.4 Youth Leagues * 2 Football calendar * 3 Outside the United States * 4 Rules o 4.1 Field and players o 4.2 Game duration o 4.3 Advancing the ball o 4.4 Change of possession o 4.5 Scoring o 4.6 Kickoffs and free kicks o 4.7 Penalties o 4.8 Variations * 5 Players o 5.1 Offense o 5.2 Defense o 5.3 Special teams o 5.4 Uniform numbering * 6 Basic strategy * 7 Physicality * 8 History * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 References * 12 Further reading * 13 External links Organization of Football in the United States Befitting its status as a popular sport, football is played in leagues of different size, age, and quality, in all regions of the country. Organized football is played almost exclusively by men and boys, although a few amateur and semi-professional women's leagues have begun play in recent years. Professional/Semi-Professional The 32-team National Football League (NFL) is currently the only major professional American football league in North America. At least two new professional American Football Leagues are slated to begin playing in 2008, the All-American Football League and the United Football League. There are professional American football leagues located in over 50 countries in the world (see List of leagues of American and Canadian football). A few of the more popular international leagues are the German Football League (GFL) and the Japanese X-League. The NFL does not operate any developmental leagues currently since the closing of NFL Europa. Players unable to make an NFL team sometimes play in the Arena Football League or Canadian Football League, both of which have rules differing somewhat from those of the NFL. University/Collegiate College football is also popular throughout North America. Nearly every college and university has a football team, no matter its size, and plays in its own stadium. The largest, most popular collegiate teams routinely fill stadiums larger than 60,000. Four college football stadiums, The University of Michigan's Michigan Stadium, Penn State's Beaver Stadium, The University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium and Ohio State's Ohio Stadium, seat more than 100,000 fans and usually sell out. The weekly autumn ritual of college football includes marching bands, cheerleaders, homecoming, parties, the tailgate party; it forms an important part of the culture in much of smalltown America. Football is generally the major source of revenue to the athletic programs of schools, public and private, in the United States. High School Most American high schools field football teams. Schools that are too small to field the minimum number of players play variants of football that specify six, seven, eight or nine players instead of the normal eleven. High school football is popular, especially in the Southern United States, where many schools regularly fill stadiums holding over 10,000 fans, and can afford artificial playing surfaces. Since high schools in the United States are tied to the town they are situated in, the football team is often a chief source of civic pride, and football heroes are very well-regarded in their communities. High school teams generally play only against other teams from their state (notable exceptions include matchups between nearby schools located on opposite sides of a state line and occasional matchups between two nationally-ranked teams for television purposes). Still, some private Christian high schools play for 'national championships' through organizations like the Federated Christian Athletic Association . Youth Leagues Football is played recreationally by amateur and youth teams (e.g., the American Youth Football and Pop Warner little-league programs). There are also many "semi-pro" teams in leagues where the players are paid to play but at a small enough salary that they generally must also hold a full-time job. Due to the speed and violence of the sport, many non-organized football games involve variations of the rules to minimize contact. These include touch football and flag football. Football calendar Football is an autumn sport. A season typically begins in mid-to-late August and runs through December, into January. The professional playoffs run through January, and the Super Bowl is often played in the first week of February. It is a long-standing tradition in the United States (though not universally observed) that high school football games are played on Friday night, college games on Saturday, and professional games on Sunday. In the 1970s, the NFL began to schedule one game on Monday night. In recent years, nationally televised Thursday night college games have become a weekly fixture on ESPN. Beginning in 2006, the NFL began scheduling games on Thursday and Saturday nights after the college football regular season concludes in mid-November. Certain fall and winter holidaysâ€”most notably Thanksgiving and New Year's Dayâ€”have traditional football games associated with them. Outside the United States The NFL operated a developmental league, NFL Europa, with teams in five German cities and one in the Netherlands, but this league folded following the 2007 season. The professional Canadian Football League and collegiate Canadian Interuniversity Sport play under Canadian rules. In Japan, the X-League is a professional league with 60 teams in four divisions, using promotion and relegation. After the post-season playoffs, the X-League champion is determined in the Japan X Bowl. There are also over 200 universities fielding teams, with the national collegiate championship determined by the Koshien Bowl. The professional and collegiate champions then face each other in the Rice Bowl to determine the national champion. The sport is popular as an amateur activity in Australia (Gridiron Australia), the United Kingdom (BAFL), Mexico (ONEFA), among other nations. The International Federation of American Football is the governing body for American football with 45 member associations from North and South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. The IFAF also oversees the American Football World Cup, which is held every four years. Japan won the first two World Cups, held in 1999 and 2003. Team USA, which had not participated in the previous World Cups, won the title in 2007. Despite this, the game has been slow to catch on in most countries. On October 2, 2005, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played the first regular season NFL game outside of North America in Mexico City's Estadio Azteca. Rules Main article: American football rules The object of American football is to score more points than the opposing team within the time limit. Field and players The numbers on the field indicate the number of yards to the nearest end zone. The numbers on the field indicate the number of yards to the nearest end zone. American football is played on a field 120 yards(109.7 m) long by 53.3 yards (48.8 m) wide. The longer boundary lines are sidelines, while the shorter boundary lines are end lines. Near each end of the field is a goal line; they are 100 yards (91.4 m) apart. A scoring area called an end zone extends 10 yards (9.1 m) beyond each goal line to each end line. Yard lines cross the field every 5 yards, and are numbered from each goal line to the 50-yard line, or midfield (similar to a typical rugby league field). Two rows of lines, known as inbounds lines or hash marks, parallel the side lines near the middle of the field. All plays start with the ball on or between the hash marks. At the back of each end zone are two goal posts (also called uprights) that are 18.5 feet (5.6 m) apart (24 feet (7.3 m) in high school). The posts are connected by a crossbar 10 feet (305 cm) from the ground. Each team has 11 players on the field at a time. However, teams may substitute for any or all of their players, if time allows, during the break between plays. As a result, players have very specialized roles, and, sometimes (although rarely) almost all of the (at least) 46 active players on an NFL team will play in any given game. Thus, teams are divided into three separate units: the offense, the defense and the special teams. Game duration A standard football game consists of four 15-minute (typically 12 minutes in high-school football) quarters, with a half-time intermission after the second quarter. The clock stops after certain plays; therefore, a game can last considerably longer (often more than three hours in real time), and if a game is broadcast on television, TV timeouts are taken at certain intervals of the game to broadcast commercials outside of game action. If an NFL game is tied after four quarters, the teams play an additional period lasting up to 15 minutes. In an NFL overtime game, the first team that scores wins, even if the other team does not get a possession; this is referred to as sudden death. In a regular-season NFL game, if neither team scores in overtime, the game is a tie. In an NFL playoff game, additional overtime periods are played, as needed, to determine a winner. College overtime rules are more complicated and are described in Overtime (sport). Advancing the ball A line of scrimmage. A line of scrimmage. A quarterback searching for opportunity to throw a pass. A quarterback searching for opportunity to throw a pass. A running back being tackled when he tries to run with the ball. A running back being tackled when he tries to run with the ball. Advancing the ball in American football resembles the six-tackle rule and the play-the-ball in rugby league. The team that takes possession of the ball (the offense) has four attempts, called downs, to advance the ball 10 yards towards their opponent's (the defense's) end zone. When the offense gains 10 yards, it gets a first down, which means the team has another set of four downs to gain yet another 10 yards or score with. If the offense fails to gain a first down (10 yards) after 4 downs, the other team gets possession of the ball. Except at the beginning of halves and after scores, the ball is always put into play by a snap. Offensive players line up facing defensive players at the line of scrimmage (the position on the field where the play begins). One offensive player, the center, then passes (or "snaps") the ball between his legs to a teammate, usually the quarterback. Players can then advance the ball in two ways: 1. By running with the ball, also known as rushing. One ball-carrier can hand the ball to another player or throw backwards to another player. These are known as a handoff and a lateral respectively. 2. By throwing the ball to a teammate, known as a forward pass or as passing the football. The forward pass is a key factor distinguishing American and Canadian football from other football sports. The offense can throw the ball forward only once on a play, only from behind the line of scrimmage and only before crossing the line of scrimmage. The ball can be thrown, pitched, handed-off, or tossed sideways or backwards at any time. A down ends, and the ball becomes dead, after any of the following: * The player with the ball is forced to the ground (tackled) or has his forward progress halted by members of the other team (as determined by an official). * A forward pass flies out of bounds or touches the ground before it is caught. This is known as an incomplete pass. The ball is returned to the most recent line of scrimmage for the next down. * The ball or the player with the ball goes beyond the dimensions of the field (out of bounds). * A team scores. Officials blow a whistle to notify players that the down is over. Before each down, each team chooses a play, or coordinated movements and actions, that the players should follow on a down. Sometimes, downs themselves are referred to as "plays." Change of possession The offense maintains possession of the ball unless one of the following things occur: * The team fails to get a first downâ€” i.e., in four downs they fail to move the ball past a line 10 yards ahead of where they got their last first down (it is possible to be downed behind the current line of scrimmage, "losing yardage"). The defensive team takes over the ball at the spot where the 4th-down play ends. A change of possession in this manner is commonly called a turnover on downs, but is not credited as a defensive "turnover" in official statistics. Instead, it goes against the offense's 4th down efficiency percentage. * The offense scores a touchdown or field goal. The team that scored then kicks the ball to the other team in a special play called a kickoff. * The offense punts the ball to the defense. A punt is a kick in which a player drops the ball and kicks it before it hits the ground. Punts are nearly always made on fourth down, when the offensive team does not want to risk giving up the ball to the other team at its current spot on the field (through a failed attempt to make a first down) and feels it is too far from the other team's goal posts to attempt a field goal. * A defensive player catches a forward pass. This is called an interception, and the player who makes the interception can run with the ball until he is tackled, forced out of bounds, or scores. * An offensive player drops the ball (a fumble) and a defensive player picks it up. As with interceptions, a player "recovering" a fumble can run with the ball until tackled or forced out of bounds. Lateral passes that are not caught or caught by a defensive player are considered fumbles. Lost fumbles and interceptions are together known as turnovers. * The offensive team misses a field goal attempt. The defensive team gets the ball at the spot where the previous play began (or, in the NFL, at the spot of the kick). If the unsuccessful kick was attempted from within 20 yards of the end zone, the other team gets the ball at its own 20-yard line (that is, 20 yards from the end zone). * In his own end zone, an offensive ballcarrier is tackled, forced out of bounds or loses the ball out of bounds, or the offense commits certain penalties. This fairly rare occurrence is called a safety. * An offensive ballcarrier fumbles the ball forward into the end zone, and then the ball goes out of bounds. This extremely rare occurrence leads to a touchback, with the ball going over to the opposing team at their 20 yard line. (Note that touchbacks during non-offensive special teams plays, such as punts and kickoffs, are quite common.) Scoring A kicker attempts an extra point. A kicker attempts an extra point. A team scores points by the following plays: * A touchdown (TD) is worth 6 points. It is scored when a player runs the ball into or catches a pass in his opponent's end zone. A touchdown is analogous to a try in rugby with the major difference being that a try requires the player to place the ball on the ground. o After a touchdown, the scoring team attempts a conversion (which is also analogous to the conversion in rugby). The ball is placed at the other team's 3-yard line (the 2-yard line in the NFL). The team can attempt to kick it over the crossbar and through the goal posts in the manner of a field goal for 1 point (an extra point or point after touchdown (PAT)), or run or pass it into the end zone in the manner of a touchdown for 2 points (a two-point conversion). In college football, if the defense intercepts or recovers a fumble during a two point conversion attempt and returns it to the opposing end zone, the defensive team is awarded the two points. * A field goal (FG) is worth 3 points, and it is scored by kicking the ball over the crossbar and through the goal posts. Field goals may be placekicked (kicked when the ball is held vertically against the ground by a teammate) or drop-kicked (extremely uncommon in the modern game, with only two successes in the last 60 years). A field goal is usually attempted on fourth down instead of a punt when the ball is close to the opponent's goal line, or, when there is little or no time left to otherwise score. * A safety, worth 2 points, is scored by the defense when a ball-carrier is tackled in his own end zone. Safeties are also awarded if the offense fumbles the ball out-of-bounds in the end zone, has a kick blocked out of the end zone or commits certain penalties in the end zone. Safeties are relatively rare. Kickoffs and free kicks Each half begins with a kickoff. Teams also kick off after scoring touchdowns and field goals. The ball is kicked using a kicking tee from the team's own 30-yard line in the NFL and college football (as of the 2007 season). The other team's kick returner tries to catch the ball and advance it as far as possible. Where he is stopped is the point where the offense will begin its drive, or series of offensive plays. If the kick returner catches the ball in his own end zone, he can either run with the ball, or elect for a touchback by kneeling in the end zone, in which case the receiving team then starts its offensive drive from its own 20-yard line. A touchback also occurs when the kick goes out-of-bounds in the end zone. A kickoff that goes out-of-bounds anywhere other than the end zone before being touched by the receiving team results in a penalty. Unlike with punts, once a kickoff goes 10 yards, it can be recovered by the kicking team. A team, especially one who is losing, can try to take advantage of this by attempting an Onside kick. Punts and turnovers in the end zone can also end in a touchback. After safeties, the team that gave up the points kicks the ball to the other team from its own 20-yard line. Penalties For a complete list of penalties, see American football rules Rule violations are punished with penalties against the offending team. Most penalties result in moving the football towards the offending team's end zone. If the penalty would move the ball more than half the distance to the defense's end zone, the penalty becomes half the distance to the goal instead of its normal value. Most penalties result in replaying the down. Some defensive penalties give the offense an automatic first down. Conversely, some offensive penalties result in the automatic loss of a down. If a penalty gives the offensive team enough yardage to gain a first down, they get a first down, as usual. If a penalty occurs during a play, an official throws a yellow flag near the spot of the foul. When the play ends, the team that did not commit the penalty has the option of accepting the penalty, or declining the penalty and accepting the result of the play. A few of the most-common penalties include: * False start: An offensive player or defensive player illegally moves after lining up for the snap. The play is dead immediately. * Offside: A defensive or offensive player is on the wrong side of the ball at the start of a play. If play has started, the penalty is delayed pending the outcome of the play. * Holding: Illegally grasping or pulling an opponent other than the ball-carrier. * Pass interference: Illegally contacting an opponent to prevent him from catching a forward pass. * Delay of game: Failing to begin a new play after a certain time from the end of the last one. * Illegal block in the back: An offensive player pushing a defensive player in the back. * Face mask: Grasping or touching the face mask of another player while attempting to block or tackle him. * Clipping: A blocker hitting an opposing defender from behind. Variations Variations on these basic rules exist, particularly touch and flag football, which are designed as non-contact or limited-contact alternatives to the relative violence of regular American football. In touch and flag football, tackling is not permitted. Offensive players are "tackled" when a defender tags them or removes a flag from their body, respectively. Both of these varieties are played mainly in informal settings such as intramural or youth games. Another variation is "wrap", where a player is "tackled" when another player wraps his arms around the ball carrier. Professional, intercollegiate, and varsity-level high school football invariably use the standard tackling rules. Another variation is with the number of players on the field. In sparsely populated areas, it is not uncommon to find high school football teams playing nine-man football, eight-man football or six-man football. Players often play on offense as well as defense. The Arena Football League is a league that plays eight-man football, but also plays indoors and on a much smaller playing surface. Players Main article: American football positions This diagram shows typical offensive and defensive formations. The offense (blue) consists of the quarterback (QB), fullback (FB), tailback (TB), wide receivers (WR), tight end (TE), and offensive linemen (C, OG, OT). The defense (red) consists of the defensive line (DL, DE), linebackers (LBs), cornerbacks (CB), strong safety (SS) and free safety (FS). Because teams can change any or all of the players between plays, the number of players at certain positions may differ on a given play. Here the offense is in the Normal I-Formation while the defense is in a 4-3 Normal. This diagram shows typical offensive and defensive formations. The offense (blue) consists of the quarterback (QB), fullback (FB), tailback (TB), wide receivers (WR), tight end (TE), and offensive linemen (C, OG, OT). The defense (red) consists of the defensive line (DL, DE), linebackers (LBs), cornerbacks (CB), strong safety (SS) and free safety (FS). Because teams can change any or all of the players between plays, the number of players at certain positions may differ on a given play. Here the offense is in the Normal I-Formation while the defense is in a 4-3 Normal. Most football players have highly specialized roles. At the college and NFL levels, most play only offense or only defense. Offense * The offensive line (OL) consists of five players whose job is to protect the passer and clear the way for runners by blocking members of the defense. Except for the center, offensive linemen generally do not handle the ball. * The quarterback (QB) receives the snap from the center on most plays. He then hands or tosses it to a running back, throws it to a receiver or runs with it himself. The quarterback is the leader of the offense and calls the plays that are signaled to him from the sidelines. * Running backs (RB) line up behind or beside the QB and specialize in running with the ball. They also block, catch passes and, on rare occasions, pass the ball to others or even receive the snap. If a team has two running backs in the game, usually one will be a halfback (HB) or tailback (TB), who is more likely to run with the ball, and the other will usually be a fullback (FB), who is more likely to block. * Wide receivers (WR) line up near the sidelines. They specialize in catching passes, though they also block for running plays or downfield after another receiver makes a catch. * Tight ends (TE) line up outside the offensive line. They can either play like wide receivers (catch passes) or like offensive linemen (protect the QB or create spaces for runners). Sometimes an offensive lineman takes the tight end position and is referred to as a tackle eligible. At least seven players must line up on the line of scrimmage on every offensive play. The other players may line up anywhere behind the line. The exact number of running backs, wide receivers and tight ends may differ on any given play. For example, if the team needs only 1 yard, it may use three tight ends, two running backs and no wide receivers. On the other hand, if it needs 20 yards, it may replace all of its running backs and tight ends with wide receivers. Defense * The defensive line consists of three to six players who line up immediately across from the offensive line. They try to tackle the running back if he has the ball before he can gain yardage or the quarterback before he can throw or pass the ball. They are the first line of defense. * Behind the defensive line are the linebackers. They line up between the defensive line and defensive backs and may either rush the quarterback or cover potential receivers. Their main job is to cover the run up the middle. * The last line of defense is known as the secondary, comprising of at least three players who line up as defensive backs, which are either cornerbacks or safeties. They cover the receivers and try to stop pass completions. They occasionally rush the quarterback. Special teams The units of players who handle kicking plays are known as special teams. Three important special-teams players are the punter, who handles punts, the placekicker or kicker, who kicks off and attempts field goals and extra points, and the long snapper, who snaps the ball for extra points, field goals, and punts. Uniform numbering In the NFL, ranges of uniform numbers are (usually) reserved for certain positions: * 1-19: Quarterbacks, wide receivers, kickers, and punters * 20-49: Running backs and defensive backs * 40-49: Tight ends and running backs * 50-59: Centers and linebackers * 60-79: Offensive and defensive linemen * 80-89: Wide receivers and tight ends * 90-99: Defensive linemen and linebackers NCAA rules specify only that offensive linemen must have numbers in the 50-79 range, but the association "strongly recommends" that quarterbacks and running backs have numbers below 50 and wide receivers numbers above 79. This helps officials as it means that numbers 50 to 79 are ineligible receivers, or players that normally may not receive a forward pass. Basic strategy Main article: American football strategy Because the game stops after every down, giving teams a chance to call a new play, strategy plays a major role in football. Each team has a playbook of dozens to hundreds of plays. Ideally, each play is a scripted, strategically sound team-coordinated endeavor. Some plays are very safe; they are likely to get only a few yards. Other plays have the potential for long gains but at a greater risk of a loss of yardage or a turnover. Generally speaking, rushing plays are less risky than passing plays. However, there are relatively safe passing plays and risky running plays. To deceive the other team, some passing plays are designed to resemble running plays and vice versa. There are many trick or gadget plays, such as when a team lines up as if it intends to punt and then tries to run or pass for a first down. Such high-risk plays are a great thrill to the fans when they work. However, they can spell disaster if the opposing team realizes the deception and acts accordingly. The defense also plans plays in response to expectations of what the offense will do. For example, a "blitz" (using linebackers or defensive backs to charge the quarterback) is often attempted when the team on defense expects a pass. A blitz makes downfield passing more difficult but exposes the defense to big gains if the offensive line stems the rush. Many hours of preparation and strategizing, including film review by both players and coaches, go into the days between football games. This, along with the demanding physicality of football (see below), is why teams typically play at most one game per week. Physicality Main article: Health issues in American football A halfback leads fellow backs through an agility drill at the Air Force Academy A halfback leads fellow backs through an agility drill at the Air Force Academy American football is a collision sport. To stop the offense from advancing the ball, the defense must tackle the player with the ball by knocking him down. As such, defensive players must use some form of physical contact to bring the ball-carrier to the ground, within certain rules and guidelines. Tacklers cannot kick, punch or trip the runner. They also cannot grab the face mask of the runner's helmet or lead into a tackle with their own helmet. Despite these and other rules regarding unnecessary roughness, most other forms of tackling are legal. Blockers and defenders trying to evade them also have wide leeway in trying to force their opponents out of the way. Quarterbacks are regularly hit by defenders coming on full speed from outside the quarterback's field of vision. This is commonly known as a blindside. To compensate for this, players must wear special protective equipment, such as a padded plastic helmet, shoulder pads, hip pads and knee pads. These protective pads were introduced decades ago and have improved ever since to help minimize lasting injury to players. An unintended consequence of all the safety equipment has resulted in increasing levels of violence in the game. Players may now hurl themselves at one another at high speeds without a significant chance of injury. The injuries that do result tend to be severe and often season or career-ending and sometimes fatal. In previous years with less padding, tackling more closely resembled tackles in Rugby football. Better helmets have allowed players to use their helmets as weapons. All this has caused the various leagues, especially the NFL, to implement a complicated series of penalties for various types of contact. Most recently, virtually any contact with the helmet of a defensive player on the quarterback, or any contact to the quarterback's head, is now a foul. Despite protective equipment and rule changes to emphasize safety, injuries remain very common in football. It is increasingly rare, for example, for NFL quarterbacks or running backs (who take the most direct hits) to make it through an entire season without missing some time to injury. Additionally, 28 football players, mostly high schoolers, died from direct football injuries in the years 2000-05 and an additional 68 died indirectly from dehydration or other examples of "non-physical" dangers, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. Concussions are common, with about 41,000 suffered every year among high school players according to the Brain Injury Association of Arizona. Extra and optional equipment such as neck rolls, spider pads, rib protectors, and elbow pads help against injury as well, though they do not tend to be used by majority of players because of their lack of requirement. The danger of football and the equipment required to reduce it make regulation football impractical for casual play. Flag football and touch football are less violent variants of the game popular among recreational players. History Main article: History of American football Frank Dombrowski (left) of the United States and Captain W. Drinkwater of Canada, rival captains of the teams playing in the Canada-United States football game at White City Stadium, London, England, 14 February 1944 Frank Dombrowski (left) of the United States and Captain W. Drinkwater of Canada, rival captains of the teams playing in the Canada-United States football game at White City Stadium, London, England, 14 February 1944 American football has its origins in varieties of football played in the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century. American football is directly descended from rugby football. The majority of the plays in a typical American football game involve handling the ball rather than kicking it. The origins of American football probably date to the early 1800s when teams in various colleges and secondary schools (necessarily from the Eastern part of the United States because established institutions of learning existed only in that region at the time) met to attempt to move an inflated ball past a line to gain points. This movement was usually achieved by kicking or batting at the ball, as in European football. The number of men on each side was quite different from the eleven which characterizes the modern game. As to the 'first' game of American football, many "first" American football games have been claimed. However, such games were often played under rules that were so different from today's game as to call into question the veracity of the claims. In 1867, the convergence of various developments at the various colleges and schools led to the codification of American football. First, the first football was patented. Also, two colleges in relative proximity to each other each developed their own rules of football. It is recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, better known as the NCAA, that Rutgers University and Princeton University played the very first game of college football on Nov. 6, 1869 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, won by Rutgers 6-4. Today, Rutgers is popularly recognized as the "Birthplace of College Football". However, the viewpoint that this particular game marks the beginning of American football is contested. The English Football (i.e., Soccer) Association rules were followed in the Princeton/Rutgers contest; participants were only allowed to kick the ball; and each side had twenty five men. Some see the Princeton/Rutgers meeting of 1869 as the first intercollegiate game of "soccer" in America, but not American football . Regardless, the 1869 game between Rutgers and Princeton is important in that it is the beginning of intercollegiate competition in any sport called football. It is also notable in that it came a full two years before a codified rugby game would be played in England. In 1870, Rutgers invited Columbia for a game, and the popularity of intercollegiate competition in football would spread throughout the country. Dartmouth College students played a football-like game now known as "Old Division Football," to which they published rules in 1871. In 1873, Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton and Yale met to formulate the intercollegiate football rules for the games they played. This meeting is notable for two reasons. First, it is the first attempt at making a single set of rules for all schools to follow. Second, Harvard refused to join the meeting. Harvard University and Tufts University played the "first" game that would be recognizable to modern fans as American football between two American teams on June 4, 1875 at Jarvis Field in Cambridge, Mass., won by Tufts 1-0 . Jarvis Field was at the time located off Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, between Everett, Jarvis and Oxford Sts. which bordered the northern point of the Harvard campus. A report of the outcome of this game appeared in the Boston Daily Globe of June 5, 1875. In the Tufts/Harvard game participants were allowed to pick up the ball and run with it, each side fielded eleven men, the ball carrier was stopped by knocking him down or "tackling" him, and the inflated ball was egg-shaped - the combination of which far more closely resembles the modern American football game than the games of other "firsts". It should also be noted that a year prior to the Tufts/Harvard game, Harvard faced McGill University of Montreal, Quebec on May 14, 1874 in a game under rules similar to the Tufts/Harvard game. This marks the Harvard/McGill game as the first game of football in "North" America. To this day, Harvard, McGill and Tufts continue to field football teams though they no longer play each other. One of the first egg shaped footballs. One of the first egg shaped footballs. Encouraged by Yale University's Walter Camp, the schools began to adopt the rules that would differentiate American football from rugby in the 1880s. The scrimmage was introduced in 1880 and the system of downs in 1882. By the turn of the 20th century, football had become notoriously dangerous; 18 college players died in 1905 alone. Colleges responded with a series of rule changes to open up the game, most importantly the forward pass, along with outlawing dangerous formations such as the "flying wedge", and introducing and requiring better equipment such as helmets. The game had achieved its modern form by 1912, when the field was changed to its current size, the value of a touchdown increased to 6 points, and a fourth down added to each possession. Originally dominated by Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, football soon captured the interest of colleges nationwide. By 1916, when the Rose Bowl game matching eastern and western teams became an annual event, football had developed a national following second only to baseball among team sports. To this day, college football continues to be highly popular and played by teams representing a wide variety of colleges and universities at all levels of competition. These include divisions representing very large universities such as the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Pac-10 and ACC that attract tens of thousands of spectators to each game, to the NESCAC which averages a few thousand per game. The Ivy League continues to be competitive within its class though it no longer commands the national attention it once did in the late 19th and early 20th century. Nonetheless, stadiums in the Ivy League include sites of great significance to the history of American Football such as Yale Bowl (completed in 1914, and is the forerunner to the "bowl" style of football stadium), Harvard Stadium (the first "horseshoe"-shaped stadium built in 1903 and the first reinforced concrete structure in the world) and Franklin Field (built in 1895) all of which are still in active use. Professional football developed in the mill towns of Pennsylvania and the American Midwest in the early years of the 20th century. The NFL was founded in 1920 in Canton, Ohio as the American Professional Football Association; it adopted its current name in 1922. Professional football remained a largely regional sport of secondary importance until after World War II, when television broadcasts boosted NFL football's national appeal. The pro game surpassed both college football and baseball in popularity in the 1960s. The first Super Bowlâ€”between the champions of the NFL and the rival American Football Leagueâ€”was played in 1967, and the leagues merged in 1970. In the early 2000s, mostly due to the proliferation of cable networks and multiple national broadcasts per week, college football has seen sort of a resurgence, especially in regional settings, though it has not yet achieved the national popularity of the NFL. See also Wikimedia Commons has media related to: American football Wikimedia Commons has media related to: College football * Health issues in American football * Glossary of American football * List of American football players * List of American football stadiums by capacity * List of leagues of American football * Pro Football Hall of Fame * College football * High school football * Nine-man football * Eight-man football * Six-man football * Sprint football * Indiana Big School Football Champions * Canadian football * List of American football teams in Germany * American Football in the Netherlands * List of American football teams in the Netherlands * List of defunct sports leagues * Eyeshield 21 * Fantasy Football * Strat-O-Matic Football * American Youth Football * Comparison of American football and rugby league  Notes 1. ^ In North America, the term "football" may refer to either American football or to the similar sport of Canadian football, the meaning usually being clear from the context. This article describes the American variant. 2. ^ Technically, the ball is a prolate spheroid. See 2006 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations, Sec. 1, Art. 1 3. ^ "gridiron." The American HeritageÂ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 01 Oct. 2007. . 4. ^ http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=158 5. ^ Annual Survey of Football Injury Research 1931 - 2005, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. Updated January 18, 2006. Accessed October 31, 2006 6. ^ Studies Suggest 10% of Arizona High School Football Players Will Suffer a Concussion During This Coming Season PR Newswire press release from the Brain Injury Association of Arizona, August 23, 2005. Accessed October 31, 2006 7. ^ >Black and White and Grey. www.theroar.com.au. 8. ^ Gardner, Paul. The Simplest Game, Macmillan, 1996 9. ^ Smith, R.A. "Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics", New York: Oxford University Press, 1988 10. ^ Smith, R.A. "Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics", New York: Oxford University Press, 1988 11. ^ MacCambridge, Michael. America's Game, Random House, 2004.  References * Digest of Rules. National Football League. Retrieved on 2007-10-31. * History and the basics. National Football League. Retrieved on 2005-12-28. * Playing with the Percentages When Trailing by Two Touchdowns. Montana State University. Retrieved on 2005-12-24.  Further reading Sports Illustrated magazine dated December 4, 2005; "Football America", a series of articles attesting to the pervasive popularity of American football in America at all levels.  External links Look up American football in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. * NCAA's complete college football rules; available as a PDF file * Movie of 1903 football game between the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan * Chronology of many events in the NFL * National Football League Official Signals. * Annual Survey of Football Injury Research * American Football * Brief explanation of the sport by the BBC aimed at a non-american audience * Offense-Defense NFL Youth Football Camps * Articles on many football topics * American Football at the Open Directory Project * American Youth Football * Football and Coaching * Quantum Quarterback WIKIPEDIA COURTESY (North)American invent, Apestive sport. we go whit RUGBY!!!!