American football, which is just called football in the United States and Canada, refers to the field sport played by two teams with eleven players in each, on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. Even this explanation may seem a lot like soccer, which is the most popular in the world. However, the techniques and rules are vastly different:
- The ball is oval-shaped and doesn’t bounce.
- The offense, who has control of the ball, must run to the other side of the field, while the defense tries to stop their advance and take control of the ball
- To win the offense must advance at least ten yards in four plays.
- Points are awarded when the ball advances through the opponents side of the field or is thrown or kicked in an arch to the end, scoring a “touchdown”.
- Players use head, body and knee protection since it is a rough contact sport.
You can easily experience the excitement of this sport if you’re British – you only need to get an ESTA Travel Authorization online prior to boarding your flight to the US.
American football is currently the most popular sport in the United States, especially at professional and university level. The professional league is known as the National Football League (NFL).
The University League
With over 119 teams, the NCAA which organises the University American football league is much bigger than any other league in this sport. With the increasing popularity of American football as an activity which brings together compatriots, the university stadiums hold up to 100,000 people, a little more than the professional league stadiums. This is because the universities bring together a greater spectrum of people from one state, whereas the professional clubs fans are mainly from one city.
In university football, the players are more dedicated because they play for their team, the pride of representing their state and their team’s tradition. For this reason, it is a sport full of pride and emotions.
A little bit of history
Like rugby, American football as we know it originated in England. Initially, it was very disorganised, without any defined rules and it became more and more popular. American football became more organised in both England and its former colonies in the middle of the 19th century, with the adaptation of a new set of rules and the emergence of the first teams like the Oneida Club from Boston Common in the United States.
As the years passed, it became obvious that the players preferred using their hands with a slightly more aggressive approach similar to rugby, to better prepare the attack. Walter Camp, known as “the father of American football”, was the first person to suggest a move away from the rugby rules and the British tradition to create a more technical game.
How did the NFL become the sport of choice of the United States?
When some American football teams changed their location, and some rules were changed, the game began to attract more fans. Numerous surveys performed in recent years have revealed that over 30% of citizens in the United States state that American football is their favourite sport, ahead of baseball and basketball.
As an entertainment industry
In the 1950s, when people in the United States began to buy televisions for their homes, professional football found its best ally for finding new fans. The sport benefited from the games being broadcast, which at the time was considered to be unique programming for the viewers.
At the end of the 20th century, the annual Super Bowl became the most viewed sports event in the United States; in fact the most viewed programme on television. The Super Bowl has been adapted to the Americans’ daily life since it is now a tradition to see the premiere of the university league on Thanksgiving Day. This is the perfect window for the advertising and sale of well-known brands, as well as performances from renowned artists like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Bruno Mars, etc.
Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the excitement of this sport, the American culture and the chance to see your favourite singers all in the same place. Visit the land of Uncle Sam with your ESTA visa to see something different from rugby.