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American football portal

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American football is a popular sport in the United States. A descendant of rugby football and closely related to the sport of Canadian football, the game took its modern form in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the many innovations and rule changes instituted by Walter Camp.

The game is played between two teams of eleven players each. One team, called the offense, is in possesion of the ball and attempts to score by moving the ball towards their opponents goal area, called the end zone. The other team, called the defense, attempts to prevent the offense from scoring and take the ball from them. American football is not a continuous-action sport, instead action takes place in short engagements called downs. Before the beginning of a down, the two teams line up on opposite sides of the ball, seperated from each other by the line of scrimmage. The ball is put into play by an action called a "snap", beginning the down. During play, the offense may choose to do four things with it:

  • They may advance the ball by running towards their opponent's end zone.
  • They may advance the ball by throwing a forward pass.
  • They may attempt a field goal by kicking the ball through the tall goal posts at the back of their opponent's end zone.
  • They may forfeit control of the ball to the other team by punting the ball to them.

Play stops, and the down is over, when any of the following occur:

  • The player with the ball is tackled to the ground.
  • A forward pass hits the ground uncaught.
  • The player with the ball steps out of bounds.

The offense is given four downs to advance the ball a minimum of ten yards; doing so gets them another four downs. If they fail to advance the ball at least ten yards in any four-down series, they forfeit control of the ball to the defense, and the two teams switch roles. The defense may also gain control of the ball by taking it from the offense, either by recovering a fumble or catching a forward pass themselves, called an interception, or if the offense chooses to punt the ball. After a score, the team on offense sends the ball to the defense via a kickoff.

To aid in the placement of the ball between downs, and to judge how far the offense has advanced the ball, the field itself is marked by a grid of yard lines. Major lines run the width of the field every five yards, with "hash marks" at one-yard intervals between them. This pattern resembles a cooking grille, or "gridiron", which leads to the sport being refered to as gridiron football, especially in countries where soccer is the dominant form of football.

There are several methods of scoring in American football:

  • A touchdown occurs when the team in control of the ball moves it into their opponent's end zone. Touchdowns are worth six points, and earns the team a chance to score additional points, either by kicking it through the goal posts for a convert, worth one point, or by running or passing the ball into the endzone for a two-point conversion.
  • A field goal occurs when the offense kicks the ball through the goal posts, either by place kick or drop kick. Field goals are worth three points
  • A safety occurs when the defense tackles the player with the ball in their own end zone. A saftey is worth two points for the defense, and also forces the offense to forfeit the ball via a "free kick".

American football allows free substitution, where any player may enter or leave the game at any stoppage in play, which in football are frequent. This allows a practice known as "platooning", whereby seperate groups of players play on defense, offense, and "special teams". Players usually play in only one of the many highy specialized positions on the field.

Organized leagues exist for American football. Youth leagues, such as Pop Warner Little Scholars, manage the sport for children. At the high school level, the sport is organized by state level high school sports associations, coordinated nationally by the National Federation of State High School Associations. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the largest university-level sports association, and the highest level of college football is played by the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision. Professionally, the 32-member National Football League is the highest level of American football. The NFL championship game, known as the Super Bowl, is annually the most-watched televised sporting event in the U.S.

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The history of American football can be traced to early versions of rugby football. Among the major changes instituted by Walter Camp, considered the "Father of American Football", in the 19th century were the introduction of the line of scrimmage and of down-and-distance rules. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, gameplay developments helped take advantage of the newly introduced forward pass. The popularity of collegiate football grew as it became the dominant version of the sport for the first half of the twentieth century. Bowl games, a college football tradition, attracted a national audience for collegiate teams. Bolstered by fierce rivalries, college football still holds widespread appeal in the US. Meanwhile, the origin of professional football can be traced back to 1892. In 1920, the National Football League (NFL) was formed, and eventually became the major league of American football. Football's increasing popularity is usually traced to the 1958 NFL Championship Game, a contest that has been dubbed the "Greatest Game Ever Played". A rival league to the NFL, the American Football League, began play in 1960; the pressure it put on the senior league led to a merger between the two leagues and the creation of the Super Bowl, which has become the most watched television event in the United States on an annual basis. (more...)

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Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox (Sauk): Wa-Tho-Huk) (May 28, 1888 – March 28, 1953) was an American athlete. Considered one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played American football at the collegiate and professional levels, and also played professional baseball and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles after it was found he was paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateur status rules.

Of Native American and European American ancestry, Thorpe grew up in the Sac and Fox nation in Oklahoma. He played on several All-American Indian teams throughout his career, and barnstormed as a professional basketball player with a team composed entirely of Native Americans. He served as the first president of the National Football League and was one of its early star players.

In 1950, Thorpe was named the greatest athlete of the first half of the twentieth century by the Associated Press (AP). In 1999, he was ranked third on the AP list of top athletes of the 20th century.

His professional sports career ended in the years of the Great Depression, and Thorpe struggled to earn a living from then on. He worked several odd jobs, struggled with alcoholism, and lived his last years in failing health and poverty. In 1983, thirty years after his death, the International Olympic Commission (IOC) restored his Olympic medals to his name. (more...)

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Franklin Field aerial.jpg

Franklin Field has served as home field for the Penn Quakers football team (since 1895), the Philadelphia Eagles (from 1958-1970), and has hosted 18 Army-Navy Games.

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On this day - January 17

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WikiProjects

  • WikiProject Sports
    • WikiProject American football
      • WikiProject American Football League
      • WikiProject College football
      • WikiProject National Football League
        • WikiProject Pittsburgh Steelers
        • WikiProject Chicago Bears
        • WikiProject Green Bay Packers
        • WikiProject New England Patriots
        • WikiProject St. Louis Rams
    • WikiProject Canadian football
    • WikiProject Gridiron in Australia
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