How Football Began

I have a pretty uniform approach to my weekends.  On Saturdays, I wake up make some breakfast and watch the college football pregame reports, then one of my roommates and I have lunch and watch the games for the day (with occassional spurts of homework sprinkled throughout the day).  Then on Sunday’s, I wake up and go to church.  After I come back I turn on FOX pregame report, to see their game picks and watch football games.  I love the sport.  If I could turnout like Chris Berman and be a TV football analyst, I would be perfectly fine with that.

I figured that as I watched some football today, I would show you a part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame‘s article about the birth of pro football.

The date was November 12, 1892, a day that would forever be etched in sports history, although no one involved that day could possibly have recognized the importance of the occasion. It was the day that the Allegheny Athletic Association football team defeated the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. The game in itself was not a momentous event. But one of the circumstances of the game did make it a never-to-be-forgotten moment in sports history – one of the AAA players, William (Pudge) Heffelfinger, was openly paid $500 to play the game. Thus pro football made its debut more than 100 years ago in comparatively obscure surroundings that could not possibly have provided the slightest clue to the world-wide popularity the sport would be destined to enjoy, particularly in the waning decades of pro football’s first century.

William (Pudge) Heffelfinger, the first professional football player.Who was “Pudge?”>>>

While the PAC had suspected something illegal was afoot, there was no immediate evidence to back up its belief that the AAA had abandoned the standard practices of the day by actually paying someone to play football. Absolute verification, in fact, did not become public for almost 80 years until the Pro Football Hall of Fame received and displayed a document – an expense accounting sheet of the Allegheny Athletic Association that clearly shows a “game performance bonus to W. Heffelfinger for playing (cash) $500. While it is possible that others were paid to play before 1892, the AAA expense sheet provides the first irrefutable evidence of an out-and-out cash payment. It is appropriately referred to today as “pro football’s birth certificate.”

The sport of American football itself was relatively new in 1892. Its roots stemmed from two sports, soccer and rugby, which had enjoyed long-time popularity in many nations of the world. On November 6, 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played what was billed as the first college football game. However, it wasn’t until the 1880s that a great rugby player from Yale, Walter Camp, pioneered rules changes that slowly transformed rugby into the new game of American Football.

Meanwhile, athletic clubs that sponsored a great variety of sports teams became a popular phenomenon in the United States in the years immediately after the Civil War. One of the sports the athletic club embraced was football.

 

Keep reading here.

-Phil

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Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

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Posted in Stories Of Events

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