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Paging Coach Taylor. It’s time to talk football.
Us too. While we're feeling sentimental, let's take a walk down football history lane. Football – that is, American football because this is not a guide about soccer – got its start in the late 19th century on college campuses. Back then it was a mashup of soccer and rugby. Until Walter Camp aka the “Father of American Football” showed up and made a few crucial changes. Camp played the game while he was a student at Yale and is credited with things like getting rid of the rugby-style “scrum,” coming up with the quarterback position, and making teams give up the ball if they don’t advance a certain number of yards within a certain number of tries (read: downs).
The first pro football player was a guy named William “Pudge” Heffelfinger. Say Pudge Heffelfinger five times fast. He was paid $500 to play a game in 1892. You could say the rest is history but we’re here precisely not to gloss over this stuff.
Oh thanks. Professional teams started forming over the years but it was a bit chaotic – players playing for multiple teams, college players taking on pseudonyms in order to make money in pro games. But in 1920, a group of team reps got together and established the American Professional Football Association, putting uniform rules in place. It was later renamed the National Football League. Nearly 100 years later, here we are.
There are a range of thoughts about that. Here are a few:
Today, pro football is a $9 billion industry. And it has consistently ranked as Americans’ favorite sport to watch for decades. But there’s trouble in paradise and we don’t just mean with Blake and Hannah G.
A few years ago, viewership started to go down. The sport has dealt with its share of scandals – related to alleged violent behavior by players, alleged poor treatment of NFL cheerleaders, and the controversy surrounding players kneeling during the national anthem.
All of this could’ve factored in to popularity taking a hit. Although last season, viewership was on the up and up again. But every year, a larger issue grabs headlines, and could threaten the future of the sport. That brings us to the big issue: injuries. Football’s a contact sport – and for years, that’s led to concerns about players’ safety, especially related to head injuries. In the past few years, a growing body of research has linked football with CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Correct. We get into that, and how injuries could change both the game and football’s role in society, in theSkimm app. Every week, the app goes deep on a different news topic to give you the context you need to understand what's going on in the world. Download the app now and you get the first week free.
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