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When did football start? The answer to that question depends on which "football" you are referring to.  We'll attempt to answer "when did American football start?".  American football is usually just called "football" within the U.S., although outside the country it is also referred to as "gridiron" or "tackle football".

Please note that we won't be looking at Association football, which is called "soccer" in the States and "football" nearly everywhere else.

So, when did football start in America? Football has its roots in a variation of rugby and soccer and was created around the middle of the 1900s, although the original version was considerably different than what we play and watch today.

When Did Football Start


Modern football is primarily distinguished by rule changes brought to the game by Walter Camp, who is revered as the "Father of American Football".  These revisions were largely complete by 1892 and include concepts like the line of scrimmage and down-and-distance.  The forward pass was added to football in 1906.

College football started in 1875.  The first game was between Harvard and Tufts University.  The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) was formed in 1905 to govern the game and protect the student players.

If you're asking, "When did the NFL start?", the answer is less than 100 years ago.  It was originally called the American Professional Football Association and was founded in 1920 in Canton, Ohio, which is now the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  In 1922 the organization's name was changed to the National Football League.

When Did the NFL Start

The NFL was merged with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970.  The AFL was started in 1960 and had 10 teams.  The merger led to the championship game which is now called the Super Bowl.  All 10 AFL teams and 3 NFL teams made up the American Football Conference, which the remaining original NFL teams formed the National Football Conference.

If you're asking, "When did football start?" as in "when did the football season start", it depends on the league.

The NFL preseason starts in August with four exhibition games.  The regular season has 16 games over 17 weeks and begins in September and runs through late December or early January.  The playoffs are in January and the Super Bowl is in early February.  The 2010 regular season started on 9/9/2010.  The 2011 regular season will start 9/8/2010.

The NCAA football regular season starts the first Monday in September, which is also the Labor Day holiday in the U.S.  It runs 12 games and ends in mid-December with the Army / Navy game.  In the post season, bowl games feature the top 64 teams.  However, in college football, there are no official championship playoffs.  While there is a recently-implemented Bowl Championship Series, which unofficially determines the national champion and is held in early January, the system is somewhat controversial.  The 2010 regular season kicked off on 9/6/2010 and the 2011 regular season will begin 9/7/2011.

When Did Football Start in America