The similarities between sports betting and American football can be drawn in the fact that it is virtually impossible to determine exactly when or where it has its origins. Ever since people have started playing any kind of ball game, an association with American football could be made even dating way back to ancient Egyptian times. However, the general consensus is that the first traces of what later would develop into multi/million industry; football or rugby, began in Europe, it is easily conceivable that England would act as the breeding-ground for the sport, but early signs of rugby can be found in all the major medieval powers of Europe, for example France and Spain.”
“The Boston game
Even for an untrained eye, it would be easy to spot why rugby would act as the sport which would give American football a sense of history. The first games that could be identified as leading to the formalization of both rugby union and American football are the Atherstone Shrovetide Game, dating back to 1199 and the Eton Wall Game. These games, which were little more than an excuse for rowdy behaviour on the pretext of moving a ball from one ill-defined place to another, travelled across the Atlantic with the immigrant settler as early as the 1600s. As in Europe, up until the 1800s these games remained the ‘free for alls’ they had always been until the some of the American Ivy-league colleges like Princeton and Harvard began playing ball games “according to their own set of rules”. Princeton played “Ballown”, whilst Harvard had a game called “Bloody Monday”, these games were similar to each - but were not identical to each other. By the mid 1860s these latter day football games had reached such peaks of violence and unruliness that many of them were banned by the authorities. Accepting the need to have some sense of rules, fair-play and the “Boston Game”, with rules for kicking and running with a ball, quickly filled the void. Similar games developed around this time, many of which reflected the sort of rules being developed for soccer in England. There would now be a perfect time to standardise the sport as a whole and with perhaps a flare and taste for American enterprising and the know-how, to devise a game that not only would be available to everyone, but also would fit the mentality of a recently formed nation and its people.”
“Walter Camp, the founding fatherWalter Camp is, generally acknowledged as the father of American football. The seven years between 1873 and 1880 saw many gatherings take place to establish a framework for American football. Camp was heavily involved in many of these meetings and had several proposals accepted. However, it was he who introduced the line of scrimmage and snap (center to quarterback) rules. Adaptations to the line of scrimmage rule in 1882 established the principle of five yard advancement within three downs and truly established American football apart from the soccer and rugby union that had developed in England in around the same time. A regular member of American football rules committee meetings up to 1924, Walter Camp proceeded with overseeing and influencing the development of the game for the further enjoyment of participants, spectators and indirectly anyone wanting to wage a sport bet.”
“From college to the heartlandWhat started as an established sport around the east coast of the United States in the 1880’s, rapidly grew amongst colleges further into the mainland and within a 20 year period, football was a sport that stretched from the east, through the heartland and along the west coast. Of course it wasn’t just colleges that played the game, athletic associations, especially those in the mid-west, also took up the sport if they had recruited members from the colleges. Then, in a relatively short period of time, William ‘Pudge’ Heffelfinger became the first professional football player in 1892.He was paid by the standards an astounding sum, $500 (plus $25 expenses) to play in just one match for Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. It turned out that William was worth the outlay of money as Allegheny beat Pittsburgh 32-0. As the sport in itself was relatively new on the national scene, the turnout for crowds coming to watch the game was around a couple of hundreds at a time, this does give quite the pretext for sports betting.”
“First giant stepsDuring the 1930’s American football established itself across the states not only as a sport but also as one of the nation’s favourite pastime activities, and the first grand finale Rose Bowl was played in 1902. Unfortunately by 1905 the game had become so dangerous to the players physical health that the sitting President Roosevelt actually threatened to ban the game if it didn’t ‘clean up its act’. The result of this was a couple of significant rule changes introducing the forward pass and tightening up the line of scrimmage at the snap play. Also, in 1918, receivers were allowed to catch the ball anywhere in the field of play. The first national professional league was born in 1920, the American Professional Football Association, and within two years it transformed into the now vastly familiar National Football League. Apart from the continued expansion of the game the next significant development was in 1960 when the American Football League began. It was the inception of this new league that led to the Super Bowl being first contested in 1967, between the two champions of their respective leagues. The NFL and AFC would later outmanoeuvre AFL out of the Super Bowl games and thus would stand as the two conferences that would battle for the title as Super Bowl champions.”
“The Grand FinaleIt is no easy task to get a ticket to the Super Bowl if you are not a fan of one of the two teams playing. Some fans have tickets going down in generations, where a father would maybe book a ticket for a possible super bowl game, only to pass it down to his son if the team wouldn’t make it to the final that year. That would also explain why Super Bowl is consistently the most watched event/program on TV and is guaranteed to get all the family viewing. It is also one of the world’s most heavily bet on sporting events. As modern day betting has advanced into what today is an avalanche of information on players, yards played, downs etc, there is a plethora of bets one can make in real-time as the game progresses over the minutes. This must act as a contrast to the earlier more modest type of sports betting where you would place a bet on the final score, or most prominent player.” -source from
“A Brief History of the Game
Football’s Early Beginnings
Football (as well as rugby and soccer) are believed to have descended from the ancient Greek game of harpaston. Harpaston is mentioned frequently in classical literature, where it is often referred to as a “very rough and brutal game“. The rules of this ancient sport were quite simple: Points were awarded when a player would cross a goal line by either kicking the ball, running with it across the goal line, or throwing it across the line to another player. The other team’s objective was simply to stop them by any means possible. There was no specific field length, no side line boundaries, no specified number of players per team, only a glaring lack of rules.
Harpaston: Luckily (for everyone) uniforms & equipment have improved dramatically.
Most modern versions of football are believed to have originated from England in the twelfth century. The game became so popular in England that the kings of that time (Henry II and Henry IV) actually banned football. They believed that football was taking away interest from the traditional sports of England, such as fencing and archery.
Evolution and the Beginnings of StandardizationFootball didn’t really begin to take on any consistency of rules and boundaries until it was picked up as a sport in the seven major public schools of England in the early 1800’s. Six of the seven schools were largely playing the same game (including Eton, Harrow and Winchester) - while the seventh, Rugby School (founded in 1567) was playing a markedly different version of football.
The other schools moved ahead refining their rules and eventually their game became known as "association football" – or soccer, which was played back then much as it is today.
Rugby School went in a different direction. How and why the game developed differently at Rugby School appears to have been lost in history, but what is known is that by the 1830's, running with the ball at Rugby School was in common use and 18 foot goal posts had been added with a cross-bar at 10 feet above the ground.
The inclusion of the cross-bar was accompanied by a rule that a goal could only be scored by the ball passing over the bar from a place kick or drop kick. Apparently this was done to make scoring easier from further out and also to avoid the horde of defenders standing in and blocking the mouth of the goal.
Players who were able to "touch down" the ball behind the opponents goal line were awarded a "try-at-goal" - the player would make a mark on the goal line and then walk back onto the field of play to a point where a place kick at the goal was possible (a conversion). There was also an "off-your-side" rule used to keep the teams apart. Passing the ball forward was not allowed.
By the mid-1860s British schools and universities had taken up Rugby's game and honored the school by giving the "new football" the name of rugby.
The game soon went trans-Atlantic to America and landed on fertile soil.
Roots of American FootballThe birth date of football in the United States is generally regarded by football historians as November 6, 1869, when teams from Rutgers and Princeton Universities met for the first intercollegiate football game. In those early games, there were 20 players to a team and football still more closely resembled rugby than modern football.
The game of football has a history of constant rule changes. Rule changes have been implemented to bolster the excitement of the game of football and to increase the game's safety.
In 1873, representatives from Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton, and Yale Universities met in New York City to formulate the first intercollegiate football rules for the increasingly popular game. These four teams established the Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA) and set 15 as the number of players allowed on each team.
Walter Camp, the coach at Yale and a dissenter from the IFA over his desire for an eleven man team, helped begin the final step in the evolution from rugby-style play to the modern game of American football. The IFA’s rules committee, led by Camp, soon cut the number of players from fifteen to eleven, and also instituted the size of the playing field, at one hundred ten yards. In 1882 Camp also introduced the system of downs. After first allowing three attempts to advance the ball five yards, in 1906 the distance was changed to ten yards. The fourth down was added in 1912.
Within a decade, concern over the increasing brutality of the game led to its ban by some colleges. Nearly 180 players had suffered serious injuries, and eighteen deaths had been reported from the brutal mass plays that had become common practice. So in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt called upon Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to help save the sport from demise.
At a meeting between the schools, reform was agreed upon, and at a second meeting, attended by more than sixty other schools, the group appointed a seven member Rules Committee and set up what would later become known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or the NCAA.
From this committee came the legalization of the forward pass, which resulted in a redesign of the ball and a more open style of play on the field. The rough mass plays, which once caused so many serious injuries, were prohibited by the committee. Also prohibited was the locking of arms by teammates in an effort to clear the way for their ball carriers. The length of the game was shortened, from seventy to sixty minutes, and the neutral zone, which separates the teams by the length of the ball before each play begins, was also established.
Though refinements to the game would continue to the present day, the modern game of American football had arrived.”- article from
“The History of Football in AmericaThis bit of information may be painful to the macho among us, but the history of football in America - at least of the game we recognize today - begins with the Ivy League. In fact, the man considered to be the Father of American Football is the great Yale athlete, Walter Camp (the man holding the football in the middle of the picture below).
But wait. It gets worse. In the history of football in America, we see that - yes! - football was too violent for those namby-pampy Ivy Leaguers. So when the game was banned in the colleges for being too dangerous, it was taken up by (you're gonna love this!) EAST COAST PREP SCHOOL BOYS!!! We kid you not!
Here's how the timeline worked. In the 1820's, Princeton and Harvard, joined by Dartmouth in the 1830's, were each playing different variations of the game. At this point in the history of football in America, the games were still mob-style, with huge numbers of players and very little in the way of rules. Not surprisingly, this free-for-all version of play was violent in the extreme, resulting in serious injuries that led to the banning of the game first in Yale (1860) and then Harvard (1861). But even as the game was being banned at the college level, it was being embraced by the prep school kids, those violent little rascals.
Now, the history of football in America still hadn't gotten us within shouting distance of the game we watch today. As noted with the early college versions, not everybody used the same format. At that point in the history of American football, there were kicking games (more like today's soccer) and running/carrying games. No one had yet come up with what has become the centerpiece of modern American football: the forward pass.
The next step in the history of football in America was again made by schoolboys, this time schoolboys of Boston, who played a form of football on Boston Commons that included both running and kicking, that is, it was more like rugby than soccer. Not surprisingly, this hybrid version of American football became known as the "Boston Game." In 1862, they organized what was known as the Oneida Football Club, thought to be the first formal football club in the United States.
The Boston kids got themselves some press coverage, so this hybrid version began getting traction. Still, when the college boys decided to give it another try in the late 1860's, they stayed primarily with the kicking game, and Rutgers vs Princeton (played November 6, 1869), although more soccer than American football, is usually considered to be the first game of intercollegiate football played in the United States.
When the competitions became intercollegiate, each school continued to have its own rules, with the home team's rules applying for each game.
When rules were first codified at a meeting in New York City's Fifth Avenue Hotel on October 20, 1873, the approach continued to more closely resemble soccer. But while Yale, columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers were on board with this kicking version, Harvard refused to join them, preferring to stay with the kick and carry Boston game.
Harvard then went on to play a series of rugby-style games (akin to the Boston format) against Montreal's MacGill University, incorporating the rugby 'try,' the origin of today's touchdown, into their version.
"Touchdown," by the way, simply refers to the physical act of touching the football down on the ground beyond the goal line.
Eventually the other colleges began abandoning the soccer version in favor of the rugby style of play, and at a meeting at the Massasoit House in Springfield, Massachusettes on November 23, 1876, a new set of standardized rules based on the Harvard-MacGill games was adopted.
Which brings us back to Yale and to Walter Camp.
It was Walter Camp who, in 1878, proposed reducing the number of players from fifteen to today's eleven, and established the now-familiar line of scrimmage, with the snap from center to quarterback as the starting point for each play.
Funny thing here. Camp intended the plays from scrimmage to speed up the game. But what actually happened was that teams - especially good old Princeton - used the new rule to slow-walk the ball downfield, keeping possession for themselves until the fans - not to mention the defense - were just about lulled to sleep.
But Walter was a clever guy. He changed the rule so that a team had to advance the ball a minimum of five yards in three plays (now, of course, it's ten yards in four plays).
Bottom line, though, it was Yalie Walter Camp who, with his introduction of these new rules, moved the history of football in America ever closer to the game we recognize today.
The forward pass was still to come in 1906. It was meant not only to open up the game, but also to reduce injuries, which, largely due to such mass formation plays as the flying wedge, had gotten so bad that 19 fatalities were reported in 1905,prompting President Theodore Roosevelt to threaten shutting down the game if the rules were not changed to limit the carnage.
Hard to think that the mayhem we see on Sunday Night Football is a pretty tame game compared with the version played by your average American college boy back in the day, but there you have it: the history of football in America has brought us to the professional sport we now love (or hate)”-source from