Culture and Recreation


When did football begin?

In ancient Greece and Rome, a game was played in which the object was to move a ball across a goal line by throwing, kicking, or running with it. Several modern games were derived from this, including rugby and soccer, from which American football directly evolved (in much of the world football refers to soccer, in which players are allowed to advance the ball only with their feet or heads). Historians generally agree that the first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, when Rutgers defeated the College of New Jersey (present-day Princeton University), 6–4. They played on a field 120 yards long and 75 yards wide and used a round, soccerlike ball. Other eastern colleges, including Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, soon added the sport to their athletic programs. In 1876 a set of official rules were compiled. In the 1880s Yale coach Walter Camp (1859–1925) revised the rules, giving the world the game played today. He limited teams to 11 players, established the scrimmage system for putting the ball into play, introduced the concept of requiring a team to advance the ball a certain number of yards within in given number of downs, and came up with the idea of marking the field with yard lines.


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