You are here:

FREE Newsletter

The Pigskin aka Playing Ball
The Pigskin aka Playing Ball
Newsletters & RSSEmail to a friendAdd to

History of Football

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!

American football was started in 1879 with rules instituted by Walter Camp.

Derived from the English game of rugby, American football was started in 1879 with rules instituted by Walter Camp, player and coach at Yale University.

Walter Camp

Walter Camp was born April 17, 1859, in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Yale from 1876 to 1882, where he studied medicine and business. Walter Camp was an author, athletic director, chairman of the board of the New Haven Clock Company, and director of the Peck Brothers Company. He was general athletic director and head advisory football coach at Yale University from 1888-1914, and chairman of the Yale football committee from 1888-1912. Camp played football at Yale and helped evolve the rules of the game away from Rugby and Soccer rules into the rules of American Football as we know them today.

One precursor to Walter Camp's influence was William Ebb Ellis, a student at the Rugby School in England. In 1823, Ellis was the first person noted for picking up the ball during the soccer game and running with it, thereby breaking and changing the rules. In 1876, at the Massosoit convention, the the first attempts at writing down the rules of American football were made. Walter Camp edited every American Football rulebook until his death in 1925.

Walter Camp contibuted the following changes from Rugby and Soccer to American football:

  • one side retained undisputed possession of the ball, until that side gives up the ball as a result of its own violations
  • the line of scrimmage
  • 11 on a team instead of 15
  • created the quarter-back and center positions
  • forward pass
  • standardized the scoring system, numerical scoring
  • created the safety, interference, penalties, and the neutral zone
  • tackling as low as the knee was permitted - 1888
  • a touchdown increased in value to six points and field goals went down to three points - 1912
The NFL or the National Football League, was formed in 1920.

View Old Patent Drawings of Football Equipment
From a 1904 pair of football trousers onwards, see what inventors have patented for the game of football.

Football History - Photos
Stills from 1903 Princeton and Yale Football Game filmed by Thomas A. Edison

Important disclaimer information about this About site.

All Topics | Email Article | |
Our Story | Be a Guide | Advertising Info | News & Events | Work at About | Site Map | Reprints | Help
User Agreement | Ethics Policy | Patent Info. | Privacy Policy | Kids' Privacy Policy

©2006 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.
Mental Health

Depression Self-Test Vitamins for Depression? Bipolar Red Flags Coping With Disasters Celebrities With Bipolar

What's Hot

Gyroscopes - Elmer Sperry and Charles Stark Draper Gyroscope...Angel AlcalaThe History of the BikiniRusi Taleyarkhan Jack Johnson