first professional American football game was
played in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in August 1895.
originally a game of the big colleges like Yale,
Harvard and Princeton and developed out of the
rules for English rugby and soccer.
controlling body, the NFL (National football
league), was performed in 1922, and the major
event of the season, the superbowl, was launched
in 1967. This brings together the winners of the
East and West Divisions in the end-of-season
American football has been skillfully
tailored by television, which has played a huge
part in the game’s development, leading
and influencing the way many other sports are
covered on the small
pitch can be either grass or an artificial
surface, and the game can be even played
indoors, as in the Houston Astrodome.
dimensions of the pitch are always the same: the
playing area is 300 feet long and 160 feet wide.
It is divided by lines at 5-yard intervals
across the pitch. The goals at each end stand on
the pole to reduce the risk of injury. The
crossbar is 10 feet above the ground and the two
posts which tower above it are 30 feet high. The
area behind the goal is called the end zone is
equipment for American football is colourful,
but costly. It has created a fashionable image
for the sport.
player wears a helmet, in his club’s
colours, which has a facemask for protection.
There are various body guarding pads, which are
covered by a numbered shirt with the
player’s name on the back, and tight,
figure-hugging white trousers with studded
ball is oval and leather-cased and is slightly
bigger than a rugby
RULES AND REGULATIONS
team has a squad of 45 players, but only 11 can
be on the field at a time. The game is played in
four quarters of 15 minutes each. But a game can
last up to and over three hours as the clock is
stopped for every interruption. There are two
minutes between each quarter, and 15 minutes for
side is divided into the American-termed
Defense, Offense, and Special team. The Offense
is given four attempts to move the ball forward
by at least 10 yards. If they succeed they get
another four goes. But if one the fourth go they
don’t think they are going to gain 10
yards in four ‘downs’, as they are
called, they will punt the ball as far into the
opposition’s half as possible.
project of both sides is to score the most
points. Six points are awarded for a touchdown
in the goal zone, an area of 10 yards behind the
goals. This is followed by a place kick in front
of the goal. If it goes over the crossbar and
between the posts a further point is scored.
goal, worth three points, can be taken if the
team is possession feel on the fourth
‘down’ that they can not make the 10
yard gain, but are within 35 yards of the goal.
A special kicker is brought on to take the kick.
Finally, two points can be scored if a player is
forced to carry the ball behind his own goal
line and is tackled by the opposition.
RECORDS SET IN THE GAME
quarterback is the playmaker of American
football, receiving the ball and throwing is
strategically and accurately forward to gain
great names of the games are quarterbacks going
back to the legendary Joe Namath, born in May
1943 in beaver falls, Pennsylvania. In 1967 he
became the first pro quarterback to throw for
over 4000 yards in a single season. Not long out
of college, and playing for the University of
Alabama, he was bought by the New York jets for
the then astronomical fee of $400,000, and in
1969 pulled off one of the greatest Superbowl
shocks when the jets beat the Baltimore Colts.
He played until 1977, ending up with the Los
Montana, also born in Pennsylvania, was another
great quarterback. With the San Francisco 49ers
he won four Superbowl titles and holds the
Superbowl record for no less than 11 touchdown
DID YOU KNOW?
1967 Superbowl in Los Angeles, between the Green
Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, was
unique. The second half was kicked off twice.
NBC, the US television networking covering the
game, was in the middle of a commercial break
and missed the first kick-off. Word was passed
to NBC staff on the sidelines, who notified the
referee about the error. The referee called the
ball back, and the second half began
players are game for anything. In October 1986
the ‘Chicago Bears’ wide receiver
Willy Gault, standing 6 foot 1 inch and weighing
183 pounds, had eight lessons as a ballet dancer
and gave a public performance in tights and
ballet shoes to raise money for underprivileged