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Although what Americans call "soccer" and the rest of the world calls "football" consists of almost all players using their feet to play the game, Americans decided to use the name ''football'' for another sport (What other countries call American Football). Some feel that this is incorrect and that the sport doesn't fit the name since probably 90-95% of the time the "football" doesn't touch any of the players feet. But it should be understood by all that there are no rules or laws of the world saying that a sport must be called by a name that the majority of the world uses, and it should also be understood that although the ball might not "touch" a players foot for most of the game, feet are being used for much of the game, including running, kicking, and scoring.

For example, to get the ball to the other end of the field and to the goal a player must run, stumble, hop, and trample among other things to get over and through the opposing sides teammates. No matter how much passing (or throwing as some would call it) is involved, there has been no known game where passes were thrown through the entire duration of the game and not anyone had to use their feet at all to gain progress. It is basically impossible to throw the whole distance of the football field through the entire game to gain points (for both teams). There has also been no known game where, again, through an entire duration players floated, hovered, crawled, walked on their hands or did anything of the sort to gain progress and to gain each and every point. They had/have to use their feet no matter which way they are trying to score. Although there is passing, sometimes it is misconstrued by those who don't completely understand the sport, that that isn't all there is (There is also a thing called the ''run game'').

So, although Americans may not have gone with what seemed to be the easier and more popular route of naming the two sports (soccer=football, football=pass ball, or throw ball, or catch ball to some) that does not mean it is wrong, or that it doesn't make sense, or that the name should be changed because it doesn't fit in with the entire world.


It's a reflection of the game's origins. The first football-type games played on U.S. college campuses were kicking-oriented sports like soccer. But every school had its own rules. It wasn't until the 1870s that the schools convened to agree on a standardized set of rules -- which, at Harvard's prodding, were based on the English rugby code. Rugby, of course, is really "rugby football." And since everyone had already been calling it football, the name stuck -- although it could just as easily at that point have become known as American rugby.

Kicking was a much more prominent part of the game in the early days than it is now, too. Before the forward pass was legalized, teams attempted more field goals, and punting was considered a primary defensive strategy for a team whose running game was bogging down.


The word 'football' is from the English language and was originally spelled as 'foot ball'. When the term 'foot ball' was first used in medieval England it described 'a ball game played on foot' known as mob football or Shrovetide football in which more running with the ball was required than kicking the ball. These ball games had earlier descriptions such as 'playing at ball' and there were similar if not identical ball games being played in other countries at the same time. These games include 'Hurling' played in Wales & Cornwall and 'La Soule' or 'Choule' played in the north of France. However, mob football or Shrovetide football was the first ball game to be specifically referred to as 'foot ball'. I have created the link 'Shrovetide football' from the BBC which provides an insight into how the game is played showing photos of the Up'ards and Down'ards 'mob' playing the game.

These Shrovetide games evolved into other forms of football notably Rugby football which was said to have been started by a pupil at Rugby school called William Webb Ellis in 1823. The Rugby Union Football world cup is called the "Webb Ellis Trophy" after him. The rules of early Rugby contributed too many other codes of football in England and other English speaking countries during the 19th centaury. American football is one of these games. It could be argued that American football is a purer form of football than say Association football (soccer) or Australian Rules football because like Rugby is retains more of the original medieval characteristics.


Some might say, simply, "because they kick the football." But the real story is deeper. The origin of Gridiron (American football) is in the history of the world's most popular sport: Football (soccer). When soccer -- more universally known as "football" (which of course makes sense because football players use their feet) -- players decided to change their centuries-old game with restrictions such as the no-use-of-hands rules, people who disliked this broke away to create rugby. The US version of the game under the same old name "football" (Gridiron) has more of a rugby style, the whole time forgetting why it was called that.

* Gridiron (American football) is a derivative of rugby football, and while the feet are used more often in rugby than on the gridiron, much of the game is still played by handling the ball. Both variations are still considered football.

* North America style Gridiron (American football) did not originally use the "forward pass" and much more of the play involved footwork, such as the "drop kick" and the running punt kick. In the first rules, only the " side pass" was allowed, as long as the two players were side by side, with no forward motion of the ball, similar to rugby rules. The Canadian Football League ( CFL ) still allows a drop kick to score a field goal, and also has a thing called a "safety" when the kicker is able to kick the ball through the end zone, so it lands out of play. Both the NFL and the CFL still have the drop-kick available as a weapon - on the point-after-touchdown, or from the field for 3 points. The "safety" is worth a single point in Canada. The Canadian game also features the ability, on fumbles, to kick the ball, but not on incomplete passes. It also features a 'touch back' which is a tackle in the end-zone, which is worth two points (called a safety in US football

* The global name for football (soccer) is of course football. The global name for American football is Gridiron. Gridiron is a type of handball and not football. Football is a sport where players control the ball with their feet and only football (soccer) does this. Gridiron is where hands are used to control a ball. Football has been played for many centuries but had no official rules. The British created rules for football in 1848. After that many codes of handball arose including rugger and gridiron, none of which are codes of football.

* It's a reflection of American football's origins. The first football type of game that colleges played in North America was almost identical to what became soccer: You scored by kicking a goal. But every school had its own rules. That was true even over in England, before the Football Association was created to establish a standard set of rules. Over here in the USA, we had no such governing body, so the schools took it upon themselves to sit down and draw up their own set of rules that everyone could agree on.

In an age when overseas communications took weeks, if not months, Americans lived in relative isolation from their football counterparts in Europe and thus weren't able to easily keep tabs on how the game was progressing there. So Americans (and Canadians) took it upon themselves to sort things out on their own and draw up a set of rules that appealed to them. Although most schools in North America were playing some variety of soccer, others, including Harvard, preferred a game that was more like rugby. When the schools first met to discuss a set of rules, Harvard pressed to base their common rules on the English rugby code, and they prevailed. From that point on, the American version of football began to develop out of rugby instead of soccer.

The same process of codifying rules had happened in England, too: After the Football Association was formed, some clubs disagreed over which rules to use -- primarily, the rule that governed the use of hands in the game. Those who favored prohibiting the hands formed the Football Association, and those who wanted to use the hands as part of the game eventually went on to form the first Rugby Football Union.

The American game could just as easily have been called American rugby, but since everyone was already calling it "football," the name stuck. Besides, in the early days, the American game was much more kicking-oriented than it is now. When there was no forward pass and kicks could be taken from anywhere on the field, teams would frequently dropkick to try to score, or they'd use a deep punt as a defensive strategy, if their running game was getting bogged down. It was only when the forward pass was legalized and kicks were limited to those taken from behind the line of scrimmage that the feet began to play a less prominent role in the American game. But again, everyone already called the game football, so there was no reason to change it.

Just keep in mind that what we call "rugby" is actually "rugby football," yet rugby players handle the ball as much as they kick it. What most of the world calls simply "football" is technically "association football," from the name of its founding and governing body. When soccer and rugby split, the association game simply adopted "football" as its name, while rugby football focused on the first part of its name. That doesn't mean one game is football while the other isn't. They're still both football games with a shared origin.

What's more, since the soccer/rugby split, other football-related games have evolved to emphasize other parts of the body to propel the ball. In fact, of the world's six major football codes -- soccer, rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules football, American (gridiron) football, and Gaelic football -- soccer is the only one that prohibits use of the hands. And they all employ kicking strategies to a greater or lesser extent.

In 1895 Rugby football clubs north of England based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire created a break-way game that became known as Rugby League Football. This is a faster game with 13 players instead of the 15 as used in the Rugby Union game. In Britain today a football club will typically carry the name of the village, town or city in which the club is located followed by one of three acronyms namely AFC (Association Football Club), RUFC (Rugby Union Football Club) or RLFC (Rugby League Football Club). All are considered forms of football that evolved from a common game with very few rules which can be traced hundreds of years. As American football was created by emigrants influenced by these games American Football shares these common origin as do the people whose medieval European ancestors who played the game in its original primitive pre-codified form.

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Pablo Friesen

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2y ago
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12y ago
The Popularity of American FootballHere are some opinions:
  • Well, I don't know if anyone really knows but I read this great article on how our American football (Gridiron) came to be. Basically, when both Football (soccer) and Rugby migrated to the US, in the 1800s or so, a lot of the country was still sort of wild and lawless. The government was weak and so were any type of police force. So, it was a more violent society. Rugby was (and still is) a more violent sport than Football (soccer), so people liked to play it. It was "sanctioned violence" because it was in the form of a game. Eventually the sport evolved into Gridiron (American football) as we know it today, and is still pretty violent..(though use of body armor, helmet and tights get belittled outside US) Like I said, I don't know if this is true, but it sounds like this could be one reason why it's so popular!
  • Culture.. many feel obligated to play/watch games that were invented where you live, so for example NFL Gridiron in America, Sumo in Japan.. while both these activities are not popular outside the country they were invented, theres a cultural feeling of obligation within to play/watch them, plus you have been brought up around it.
  • Stoppages. Frowned upon in other countries, in America the relentless stop start nature of Gridiron allows people to do other things whether being at home or watching a game on TV, get to eat, chat to people, general things.
  • Body weight is a big factor why American football (Gridiron) is specifically popular in America as its caters for people who are overweight, the stop start nature of the game allows people to rest constantly. Last medical tests in America revealed 56% of NFL players were clinically obese, therefore it gives people a chance who couldn't physically play other games.
  • Simple, there's really no such thing as a guaranteed contract in this sport, so the owners have more control over the game.
  • It may have something to do with the type of football they play, in my opinion I think Gridiron (American football) is more advanced that Football (soccer).
  • American Football (Gridiron) is a high intensity high impact sport with anticipation of what may happen next. In every game there are at least a few very exciting plays, and this keeps people glued to the tv for the entire game.
  • Because it is a contact sport and very competitve and people like to see a little competition.
  • I am American, and here is my opinion. Football (Gridiron), like many sports in the US, has a team for a majority of the major cities. People like to cheer for their home town in hopes that they can catch the spotlight of the media..
  • I'm also an American. I try to spend my time productively rather than sitting in front of the television as soon as I get home from work, until I go to bed at night. I don't try to remember all the stats of every American football (Gridiron) player and game, and I generally don't obssess about something as passing as football. Why? Because all governments want to keep people from paying attention to their agendas, that's no secret. So American Football is heavily promoted in America because it keeps people ignorant to anything else the government is doing. Even through some of America's most recently dramatic times, we still let them get away with whatever they want. So if you managed to read this far, you probably understand that all it takes to make something popular in America (and most countries), is enough advertising dollars to convince the weak minded to watch. Advertising works on 79% of wake up and pay attention to your manipulation! Two words: Superbowl Commercials
  • I think that Rugby has evolved into a far more physical and skillful game than Gridiron (American football) and as such means that Gridron will remain big in the US as Americans feel obligated having invented it, but not so outside of it.
  • It's not really a great game anyhow it's just that it's a healthy game and a risk of a carrer

Super Sam's opinion: Because it is an American sport and Americans love football!!!!!

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16y ago

American football has become popular because the NFL has done a good job of marketing and promoting the sport. They promote the excitement and action. They expanded television coverage. Monday Night Football, having a game in prime time, helped quite a bit. More recently, the NFL network has expanded coverage. Then there's NFL Films which has been making entertaining shows and documentaries for many years.</P>

The sport, itself, offers a good combination of speed, strength and strategy.

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13y ago

its a great sport that in many ways is like its own culture.

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12y ago

It's intersting and it has a lot of the action people like but with just the right amount of violence.

And because it's rawh :p

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14y ago

i dont think its the most its just seaonal...i don't know if you've noticed

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12y ago

Because it helps us get all of our anger out instead of killing and fighting

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Q: Why is American football so popular in America?
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