Football, also called American Football, is the most popular onlooker sport in the United States.
But the thing is, most of us probably don’t know why is American Football called Football, and why not say tackle ball or oblong ball?
And yes, considering the name football, there’s always a kicker on every team who launches the ball through a set of goalposts with their foot, but it’s interesting to note that that’s not where the name of the sport came from.
Many people are still unsure about why is American Football called Football. American Football is a game with an outstanding story behind its name. American Football is famed by the name football because of its nativity.
Same as soccer, Football got its origin from rugby football. Going one step more back in history was called footy in Australia and then rugby in the United States.
Overview: Why is American Football Called Football?
Origins of American Football
Each sport has a tremendous history with a story to tell how it was formed, grew, and became the sport we know and love. It is widely accepted that American Football has been greatly influenced by two distinct sports.
These sports were developed in the 19th century and showcase the two cultures that most influenced the formation of the sport, the British and Irish cultures.
Back then, there was a lot of communication between these two cultures through commerce and immigration, which led to constant competition on both sides.
A clear influence of English rugby rules on American Football is seen through its formations. Meanwhile, the Irish sport of hurling had a significant influence on American Football.
As a result of that, the sport was called “gridiron football,” which was the term mostly used by media reporters and writers.
In the late 19th century, gridiron football was one simple word to differently designate American Football from the other two versions of the game association football and rugby football.
How Did American Football Get Its Name
Blame the Brits. The term soccer was used by them for generations. They invented the game and the term “soccer,” which was widely used to differentiate it from rugby.
First, let’s get a bit of an understanding of how these two sports came to be so that we can make clear why is American Football called Football.
The most popular sport in the world, soccer – was originally known as association football. Football, as the whole world knows it (or soccer in the U.S.), was originally known as Association football, which became “soccer” for short before being widely known as just Football.
When soccer came to the U.S. along with European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century, the U.S. already had a game called Football, so they took on what was then the famous British word for the game.
American Football is more of an evolution of rugby football which emerged around the same time as Association football, leaving the world with curiosity about why is American Football called Football.
The term soccer stuck in the U.S., while in Europe and other parts, world football became popular.
Rugby and soccer both originated in Britain, but it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the games became fully codified and differentiated. And that’s when both games split into what they are known as today.
After the codification and creation of Association football, followers of the Rugby game grew and refused to let it be obliterated by the creation of Association.
As a result, the Rugby Football Union came around 10 years following the Association.
When Mr. Walter Camp, the Father of American Football, attempted to have the “Collegiate Rules of Football” accepted as the official rule book for college football games, he ran into problems because of this word.
Then he decided to drop the term entirely in favour of “American Football.”
It led to a discussion among the leaders of the American football community, where eventually it was agreed that all the game leagues played in the United States would be called American Football and, for that time, making it clear why is American Football called Football.
The Original Games Were Never So Clear Cut
Understanding the rules of American Football, the game is mainly played by controlling the ball with the hands. So, people often wonder how one gets to the name football if the player is not playing Football with their foot.
Because Football is a sport played on foot. As we already discussed, until the games were codified and diverged into Association and Rugby, most football games were played through both hands and feet.
Back then, rugby and soccer both were weird games of their own. So, it’s not that off and odd for American Football to be called Football.
With time each country adopted its own set of rules for the game, such as Australian rules for Football and Canadian football rules.
In the U.K., in the 1800s, most of the schools played some form of Football following the school’s pwn-created rules and were mostly managed by the students.
During the early 1800s, football-style games spread throughout the world, and in the U.S., informal and unruly games of mob football were widely played under rules based on custom and loose agreement.
By the late-1860s major US East Coast universities played a more formalized football related to the Association game and the Rugby game, with influences from other U.K. styles such as Winchester football.
A committee was set up by the late 1870s to regulate the game rules, which were again in many ways based on the early Rugby style but with some new included differences.
From this point on, U.S. football evolved into the game we know today. Like all the other codes, including Rugby Union, Rugby League, Australian Rules, and Gaelic Football, it has always been regarded as “football.”
Even when the original Football Association was formed in 1863 to codify Football under a single set of laws, their first written laws allowed for a fair catch, which was not changed until 1866.
When the Rugby Football Union published its laws in 1871, systematizing the game that had developed from the decades-old Rugby School version, the two different styles became firmly established.
According to the research and writings about the history of Rugby Union, the “birth of rugby” story is set in Rugby School in the 1820s.
How it Became an American and International Sport
The Introduction of Rugby Football to the United States
Just like Football, rugby techniques are becoming aggressively popular, especially in U.K. schools, and are spread all around the world.
However, varies from Football, which maintains a standard set of rules worldwide. Rugby football is subject to a variety of different interpretations.
There was a conflict within the United Kingdom between those who wanted to play professional Football and those who wanted to keep the game’s amateur status. Led a split between the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League.
Back in 1869, Rutgers University played Princeton in a game with two teams of 25 players. A round shape ball that could not be picked up or carried but could be hit with both hands and feet to score by kicking or running the ball into the goal area.
The Foundation of the Modern American Football
After a nail-biter match between Harvard and Yale was played in 1875 and watched by Princeton officials, American Football began to develop as a modern sport.
The ruling of this game was similar to the original game of Football. It was under these rules that the major colleges in the United States finally decided to register, and thus the modern sport of Ball was born.
American Football expanded, originally piloted by Yale Camp player Walter, dubbed the ‘father of American football.’
Some Fun Facts and Other Reasons Why American Football Called Football
- The National Football League used an all-white ball for a while. For better clarity during the nights, then switched to a white ball with black stripes. And after noticing the paint used for the stripes gave the ball a ball, result in NFL ended up removing the stripes altogether.
- Till the 19th century, soccer, also known as association football and rugby, was all played with a pear-shaped ball or plum made of leather. It was covered in an inflated animal bladder. The first proper Football was invented in Europe by two shoemakers: Richard Lindon and William Gilbert, who invented special round and oval balls.
- One of the differences between Canadian Football and American Football is the size of the field. Football fields measure 110 meters in length and 65 meters in width.
- Football fields in the United States are 100 yards long, 53 feet wide, and one-third of a meter wide.
The First Reason for the American Football Name
Some historians figuring out why is American Football called Football also stated that the name football is obtained from European Football, which Americans now call Football, and they have left it that way on purpose because of tradition.
To understand it most easily: foul play considers any use of the hands. That’s where the primarily original term – Football – came from. The player would be controlling the ball with their feet.
The Second Reason for the American Football Name
Another reason is more analytical; it establishes that the name is derived from the combination of two roots, foot, and ball. This time, foot refers to the measurement rule used in the United States.
The word ball in the game is referred to the ball as an object and also its shape; the ball is not rounded like other balls in other sports, again making everyone think why is American Football called Football, it is void.
Therefore, why is American Football called Football not just because of its roots in European Football, but because of a compound between the length of the Football?
Closing Thoughts: Why is American Football Called Football?
Every sport has a beginning story or history, and it is often that beginning that gives the sport its name.
Some games, on the other hand, get their names from a combination of factors such as geography, rules, source, and features. It is not as simple as it seems but not as irrelevant as many think.
But that’s the beauty of every sport that they are above all the differences, even if it’s religious, rules or geography, or any other thing. When a team comes together to play, they play as a team setting every other thing aside.
Hope you had fun reading this article!
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