Football has become a game known all over the world and, with the exception of soccer is arguably the most popular sport on earth. The game is clearly derived from a number of other sports that appear to boast similar rules, stylings and team ethics as seen in the American version of the game but exactly how these variations have been reached throughout history is a fascinating tale.
Looking at a couple of examples across three different continents, here is a brief look back at the development of some of the most popular sports we have come to love.
This is simply huge in the United States. It eclipses each of the other ‘big three’ sports on the North American continent and appears set to continue that dominance but how did it arrive on these shores?
Well, there are a couple of theories but the main one is that it arrived with the British in the form of soccer and rugby. The first ever game of American football was played, according to several parties, in 1896 between Rutgers and Princeton, two college teams.
The rules were not as they are today and the ball was initially round but influential figures, perhaps most famously Walter Camp, helped evolve the game into a more recognizable form. Camp introduced the line of scrimmage and the system of downs which is now uniquely linked to American football, although it has its origins in rugby.
Australian Rules Football
Another continent away and another sport that looks very similar in both style of play and rules to American Football – Australian Rules.
Aussie rules is perhaps less similar to American Football than its British counterparts but again has been influenced heavily by rugby and soccer. The game began to emerge in Melbourne in and around 1858. The game developed over the subsequent year to now form the 18-team AFL which is hugely popular in the country. Melbourne currently has two teams in the modern era who between them have finished first a combined 14 times and are currently priced at +3300 (North Melbourne) and +2800 (Melbourne) in Aussie Rules betting to win the next Grand Final.
Arguably the mother of all sports using a ball shaped like an egg, the game of rugby dates back to a similar time to association football and finds its home in Britain.
The game dates back to 1845 and comes for the Warwickshire town of Rugby where the sport was formed. There are two types of rugby, Rugby Union and Rugby League, which spilt in 1895 due to a disagreement about the payment of athletes for missing work to play matches. The game has its origins in some of the ancient ball games of Britain but is thought to have been the biggest influence on similar games across the globe including American and Australian rules football.
In short, these three wonderful sports all share a similar background but it is the individuals who have, over the years, shaped them into the popular and unique giants they are today.