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American football and its heritage

Introduction

The similarities between sports betting and American football can be drawn in the fact that it is virtually impossible to determine exactly when or where it has its origins. Ever since people have started playing any kind of ball game, an association with American football could be made even dating way back to ancient Egyptian times. However, the general consensus is that the first traces of what later would develop into multi/million industry; football or rugby, began in Europe, it is easily conceivable that England would act as the breeding-ground for the sport, but early signs of rugby can be found in all the major medieval powers of Europe, for example France and Spain. 

The Boston Game

Even for an untrained eye, it would be easy to spot why rugby would act as the sport which would give American football a sense of history. The first games that could be identified as leading to the formalization of both rugby union and American football are the Atherstone Shrovetide Game, dating back to 1199 and the Eton Wall Game. These games, which were little more than an excuse for rowdy behaviour on the pretext of moving a ball from one ill-defined place to another, travelled across the Atlantic with the immigrant settler as early as the 1600s. As in Europe, up until the 1800s these games remained the ‘free for alls’ they had always been until the some of the American Ivy-league colleges like Princeton and Harvard began playing ball games “according to their own set of rules”. Princeton played “Ballown”, whilst Harvard had a game called “Bloody Monday”, these games were similar to each - but were not identical to each other. By the mid 1860s these latter day football games had reached such peaks of violence and unruliness that many of them were banned by the authorities. Accepting the need to have some sense of rules, fair-play and the “Boston Game”, with rules for kicking and running with a ball, quickly filled the void. Similar games developed around this time, many of which reflected the sort of rules being developed for soccer in England. There would now be a perfect time to standardise the sport as a whole and with perhaps a flare and taste for American enterprising and the know-how, to devise a game that not only would be available to everyone, but also would fit the mentality of a recently formed nation and its people.

Walter Camp, the founding father

Walter Camp is, generally acknowledged as the father of American football. The seven years between 1873 and 1880 saw many gatherings take place to establish a framework for American football. Camp was heavily involved in many of these meetings and had several proposals accepted. However, it was he who introduced the line of scrimmage and snap (center to quarterback) rules. Adaptations to the line of scrimmage rule in 1882 established the principle of five yard advancement within three downs and truly established American football apart from the soccer and rugby union that had developed in England in around the same time. A regular member of American football rules committee meetings up to 1924, Walter Camp proceeded with overseeing and influencing the development of the game for the further enjoyment of participants, spectators and indirectly anyone wanting to wage a sport bet.

From college to the heartland

What started as an established sport around the east coast of the United States in the 1880’s, rapidly grew amongst colleges further into the mainland and within a 20 year period, football was a sport that stretched from the east, through the heartland and along the west coast. Of course it wasn’t just colleges that played the game, athletic associations, especially those in the mid-west, also took up the sport if they had recruited members from the colleges. Then, in a relatively short period of time, William ‘Pudge’ Heffelfinger became the first professional football player in 1892.He was paid by the standards an astounding sum, $500 (plus $25 expenses) to play in just one match for Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. It turned out that William was worth the outlay of money as Allegheny beat Pittsburgh 32-0. As the sport in itself was relatively new on the national scene, the turnout for crowds coming to watch the game was around a couple of hundreds at a time, this does give quite the pretext for sports betting.

First giant steps

During the 1930’s American football established itself across the states not only as a sport but also as one of the nation’s favourite pastime activities, and the first grand finale Rose Bowl was played in 1902. Unfortunately by 1905 the game had become so dangerous to the players physical health that the sitting President Roosevelt actually threatened to ban the game if it didn’t ‘clean up its act’. The result of this was a couple of significant rule changes introducing the forward pass and tightening up the line of scrimmage at the snap play. Also, in 1918, receivers were allowed to catch the ball anywhere in the field of play. The first national professional league was born in 1920, the American Professional Football Association, and within two years it transformed into the now vastly familiar National Football League. Apart from the continued expansion of the game the next significant development was in 1960 when the American Football League began. It was the inception of this new league that led to the Super Bowl being first contested in 1967, between the two champions of their respective leagues. The NFL and AFC would later outmanoeuvre AFL out of the Super Bowl games and thus would stand as the two conferences that would battle for the title as Super Bowl champions.

The Grand Finale

It is no easy task to get a ticket to the Super Bowl if you are not a fan of one of the two teams playing. Some fans have tickets going down in generations, where a father would maybe book a ticket for a possible super bowl game, only to pass it down to his son if the team wouldn’t make it to the final that year. That would also explain why Super Bowl is consistently the most watched event/program on TV and is guaranteed to get all the family viewing. It is also one of the world’s most heavily bet on sporting events. As modern day betting has advanced into what today is an avalanche of information on players, yards played, downs etc, there is a plethora of bets one can make in real-time as the game progresses over the minutes. This must act as a contrast to the earlier more modest type of sports betting where you would place a bet on the final score, or most prominent player.




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