Kicking Off 100 Years of Football

Milyn Ross, Staff Writer

Soccer, basketball, hockey, rugby and even baseball are all great sports appreciated by people all over the world, but there’s one sport that only Americans understand. And that’s football. Football is America’s sport, and this year, we are celebrating 100 years of the NFL.

Football all started with 14 teams, most of which are in the Midwest. Five of the teams were from Ohio, two were from Indiana, one was from Michigan and two were from New York. The New York teams were unique because they were not thought of as real teams since they weren’t from the Midwest. They were made out to be the sissy team of the league.

The other four teams in the original set were from yours truly — the state of Illinois.  We weren’t always the home of the Bears. Originally, the Cardinals and the Tigers, were both based in Chicago. In 1920, the Cardinals challenged the Tigers to a game to decide who would be the sole team in Chicago. The Cardinals won 6-3, causing the Tigers to have to disband. The Cardinals were then the Chicago team until the Staleys, now known as the Chicago Bears, pushed them out, making the Cardinals to relocate to Arizona.

The teams aren’t the only things that changed throughout the years. The basic shape of the ball itself has changed since the beginning. The ball that every American can name was not always the recognizable shape that it is now. The original football was as a sphere just like a soccer ball. Because of the shape of the ball, players really couldn’t carry or throw it . They then changed to a watermelon type shape, almost like a rugby ball, but that didn’t help with the throwing forward part of the game as much as they thought it would. That meant they went back to the drawing board and finally found the design that we have now. At first, it was a lot bigger, but they soon found out it was too large for people to be able to throw long distances, so they decided to shrink it down, and that’s how we got the well-known ball that we know.

When it comes to the rules of football, they have changed for the better — to keep the players as safe as possible. Originally it was acceptable to grab someone’s face mask; however, now it’s no longer allowed and counts as a penalty. Substitutions, allowing one player to take another’s place when they get tired,, were added to the game. They even have more protective gear because of the research on concussions that has been done in recent years. 

Rules aren’t just made to keep their players safe, though. Rules are also made to make sure that the game is played fair. In one game featuring the Bears in 1932, their quarterback stepped back once and lobbed the ball in the air scoring a key touchdown. Thus, the opposing team was very upset because they felt like it violated the rule where you have to be at least five feet behind the line of scrimmage to make a pass. After a long deliberation, officials decided that anywhere behind the line of scrimmage is legal to throw. Rules are added and revised in order to keep the players safe but also to keep the game entertaining. 

Even with all the changes, from the rules down to the teams themselves, football has shown that after 100 years, it can still be the popular sport of America.