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From Bare Bones to Big Bucks-The Evolution of American Football

By the end of October, baseball fans pack up the party with the boys of summer, and prepare for the cold months ahead with a long list of hard-hitting heavyweights ready to take the field as the Sunday afternoon, Monday night, and holiday highlight for the winter months. But, football as we know it today started as a bare bones game, evolving through continents, colleges and contracts over the years.

Like most things, football can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who played a version of football which then carried over to medieval Italy, where a game called "calcio," the Italian word for "soccer," began to flourish. Years later, in England, a young man at the Rugby Boys' School got tired of kicking the ball around the field, and decided to pick it up and run. That was the beginning of Rugby.

Rugby merged back and forth through different sets of rules from Australia to England, and eventually to the States in 1869, when Rutgers and Princeton played a game that resembled something more like soccer than football. It wasn't until 1875 that the ball came off the ground. Harvard and Yale fixed a field meeting of the Ivy Leagues, and the Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA) was created to finalize the match up in 1876.

In upcoming years, a prominent Yale player named Walter Camp convinced the IFA to change a series of rules that pushed the game closer to the version of football we know today. Intercollegiate football evolved through the 1800's, until the downfall of the IFA in 1895. In 1920, organizers from 10 professional football teams across the country met, and the American Professional Football Association was born. It was reorganized a year later, and in 1922 renamed the National Football League, and that was just the beginning.


rules changed, the league expanded with conferences and changed again with the addition of conference divisions. In the 1970's throwing the ball accompanied the traditional run, and in the 90's the emphasis moved from field goals to two-point conversions.

Today, football is big business. Players demand more money, entertainment is a regular part of televised games, and the retail industry makes a fortune helping fans maintain team loyalty and personal nostalgia for a game they grew up with. Sports Nostalgia Company, Mitchell & Ness sells everything from jackets to pennants to remember unforgettable moments of games past, and the players that made them happen. Mitchell & Ness's business was born out of fans' desire to remember the old days with throwback jerseys of NFL favorites like Joe Namath, Marcus Allen, and Steve Young.

Although baseball is known as America's favorite past time, football is certainly in the running for taking the title. Football has become as much a staple at Thanksgiving as turkey and pie. Sunday tailgates are planned months in advance, and office pools change weekly with team standings.

Football is a modern game with ancient roots. It's a game with loyal fans that brave the cold, suffer defeat, and turn up in droves to one of the most watched sports showdowns in February, right before the boys of summer head south for spring training.

About the author:

Nina Nocciolino is a copywriter with DMI Partners, an interactive marketing agency specializing in higher education, finance, retail and real estate. For more information, visit .

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