Who owns the right to call football football? And just what is football?
Listen to this Andy Griffin classic - What it was was football!
It seems all the rest of the world is lined up against America in claiming that Soccer is really Football and Football in America should be called something else, but is the rest of the world right? Well we at the CPT make it a point to tell you the truth so here it is.
The games of football, rugby football, soccer football, American gridiron football, Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, as well as the variations of the games in various countries all share the same history.
While it is widely assumed that the word "football" (or "foot ball") references the action of the foot kicking a ball, there is a historical explanation, which is that football originally referred to a variety of games in medieval Europe, which were played on foot. These games were usually played by peasants, as opposed to the horse-riding sports (such as polo) often played by aristocrats. There is no conclusive evidence for either explanation, and the word football has always implied a variety of games played on foot, not just those that involved kicking a ball. In some cases, the word football has even been applied to games which have specifically outlawed kicking the ball.
For that reason all forms of football share and can claim ownership of the term for it has always applied to all of them. Now to get specific, medieval Europe was the time from 500 CE to 1,500 CE so we are talking about a name in use 500 to 1,500 years ago, long before the modern games came into existence.
In the ancient days, well before the time of Jesus, according to the Greek history, the first Olympic Games in the Greek Antiquity can be traced back to 776 BC. The Games continued through the rise of the ancient Greek empire and for almost 12 centuries, until the Roman Emperor Theodosius banned them, in 393 AD. The Games had gradually lost their importance when the Romans conquered Greece and when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. So ended a period of one thousand years during which the Olympics were to be conducted every four years thereafter.
The Olympic games were revived by the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin in the late 19 th century. The Games of the Olympiad, also known as Summer Olympics, taking place every four years since 1896 onwards, with the exception of the years during the World Wars.
As for football and the Olympics, in 1900 soccer became a demonstration sport and by 1908 medals were granted to winners. Rugby Sevens will debut as an Olympic sport at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to include the sport at the IOC Congress on 9th October 2009.
Documented evidence of an activity resembling football can be found in the Chinese military manual Zhan Guo Ce compiled between the 3rd century and 1st century BC. It describes a practice known as cuju (literally "kick ball"), which originally involved kicking a leather ball through a small hole in a piece of silk cloth which was fixed on bamboo canes and hung about 9 m above ground. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), cuju games were standardized and rules were established. Variations of this game later spread to Japan and Korea, known as kemari and chuk-guk respectively. This is known to have been played within the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto from about 600 AD.
There are a number of references to traditional, ancient, or prehistoric ball games, played by indigenous peoples in many different parts of the world. For example, in 1586, men from a ship commanded by an English explorer named John Davis, went ashore to play a form of football with Inuit (Eskimo) people in Greenland. There are later accounts of an Inuit game played on ice, called Aqsaqtuk. Each match began with two teams facing each other in parallel lines, before attempting to kick the ball through each other team's line and then at a goal. In 1610, William Strachey of the Jamestown settlement, Virginia recorded a game played by Native Americans, called Pahsaheman. In Victoria, Australia, indigenous people played a game called Marn Grook ("ball game"). An 1878 book by Robert Brough-Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria, quotes a man called Richard Thomas as saying, in about 1841, that he had witnessed Aboriginal people playing the game: "Mr Thomas describes how the foremost player will drop kick a ball made from the skin of a possum and how other players leap into the air in order to catch it." It is widely believed that Marn Grook had an influence on the development of Australian rules football
The modern rules of many football codes were formulated during the mid- or late- 19th century. This also applies to other sports such as lawn bowls, lawn tennis, etc. The major impetus for this was the patenting of the world's first lawnmower in 1830. This allowed for the preparation of modern ovals, playing fields, pitches, grass courts, etc. Apart from Rugby football, the public school codes have barely been played beyond the confines of each school's playing fields. However, many of them are still played at the schools which created them.
One of the longest running football competitions is in Australia, the Cordner-Eggleston Cup, contested between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, Melbourne every year since 1858. It is believed by many to also be the first match of Australian rules football, although it was played under experimental rules in its first year. The first football trophy tournament was the Caledonian Challenge Cup, donated by the Royal Caledonian Society of Melbourne, played in 1861 under the Melbourne Rules.
The oldest football league is a rugby football competition, the United Hospitals Challenge Cup (1874), while the oldest rugby trophy is the Yorkshire Cup, contested since 1878. The South Australian Football Association (30 April 1877) is the oldest surviving Australian rules football competition. The oldest surviving soccer trophy is the Youdan Cup (1867) and the oldest national soccer competition is the English FA Cup (1871). The Football League (1888) is recognized as the longest running Association Football league. The first ever international football match took place between sides representing England and Scotland on March 5, 1870 at the Oval under the authority of the FA. The first Rugby international took place in 1871.
Modern American football grew out of a match between McGill University of Montreal, and Harvard University in 1874. At the time, Harvard students are reported to have played the Boston Game — a running code — rather than the FA-based kicking games favored by U.S. universities. This made it easy for Harvard to adapt to the rugby-based game played by McGill and the two teams alternated between their respective sets of rules. Within a few years, however, Harvard had both adopted McGill's rugby rules and had persuaded other U.S. university teams to do the same. In 1876, at the Massasoit Convention, it was agreed by these universities to adopt most of the Rugby Football Union rules, with some variations. Princeton, Rutgers and others continued to compete using soccer-based rules for a few years before switching to the rugby-based rules of Harvard and its competitors. U.S. colleges did not generally return to soccer until the early twentieth century.
By the 1820's and '30's Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth and Yale were playing versions of football, often changing rules at halftime. It was so brutal it was called "mob football". On November 6, 1869, Rutgers University faced Princeton University in a game that was played with a round ball under "Football Association" rules (i.e. soccer) and is often regarded as the first game of intercollegiate football. The game was played with 20 players per team at a Rutgers field under Rutgers rules.
Another game claiming to be first was played in November 1875 at New Haven, Connecticut between Harvard and Yale, and was part rugby and part soccer. The two teams played with 15 players on a side instead of 11 as Yale would have preferred, and Harvard won by 4 goals and 4 tries, or touchdowns, to none.
In 1880, Yale coach Walter Camp, credited with being behind many of the modern football rules, devised a number of major changes to the American game. Camp's two most important rule innovations in establishing American football as distinct from the rugby football games on which it is based are scrimmage and down-and-distance rules.
So there you are, and you can thank the Ivy League for bringing football to America. Of course it was so brutal that there were 18 deaths and many serious injuries, and was banned on most college campuses, before President Teddy Roosevelt saved the sport by revising the rules when the situation came to a head in 1905 with 19 fatalities nationwide. President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to shut the game down if drastic changes were not made. They were made and modern football was finally born in America.