Why Is American Football Called Football?

American Football is America’s most popular sports. Football is basically a ballgame that mainly uses the hands rather than the foot, but ironically, it is called “football”.

Why is American football called football? Well, it is because of its origin; it was associated with Rugby Football and evolved through time.

The History of American Football

The early form of football is not what we know at present. It was a little bit of an unorganized form of the game Rugby Football.

Rugby Football is a game of two rival teams competing to score and gain points by controlling the ball and aiming a goal.

The American Football evolved in the United States through several reiterations and amendments.

The game which was considered as the first football game was played between two college teams, the Rutgers University and the Princeton University, which was played several years ago on November 6, 1869.

Rutgers won the game scoring 6 goals while Princeton lost, only scoring 4 goals.

The teams had 25 players each, and they were using a round-shaped ball with a very much different rule from the football we know today, in which picking and carrying the ball is not allowed.

Players were only allowed to kick and bat the ball using their hands, feet, sides, and head, and the game’s objective was to advance the ball into the opposite team’s goal.

For a couple of years, collegiate games were continuously played, and these games had rules of hosting schools.

On October 19, 1873, representatives from four different schools, namely Yale, Rutgers, Princeton, and Columbia, created a standardize set of rules for all schools to abide with in all football competitions.

Some of these rules indicated that each team should compose 20 players, and the field should have the size of 400 x 250 feet.

Harvard University chose and favored the rugby-style game’s rules and regulations.

The Harvard vs Yale game last 1875 also played a rugby style of game in which the rules were based on rugby football.

Two Princeton players watched the game and were so impressed.

Since they were astonished, they introduced what they saw from the game to their school, and this gave way to the start of the Professional Football Researchers Association.

The four schools, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Yale agreed to use the rugby-style set of rules for intercollegiate games, but they agreed that the rules should have some changes in the scoring system.

The Intercollegiate Football Association was formed by the other three schools aside from Yale.

Walter Camp, a Yale player, modified the rules of the game in 1880.

His modification downsized the number of players for each team to eleven, which was fifteen before. 

He also introduced what we call the snap to substitute the inconsistent and disordered scrum. At present, Walter Camp is known to be the “Father of American Football”.

Through time, different new rules were introduced and changed to create a better football game.

Changing of rules was needed to prevent different kinds of tragedies and accidents from occurring during a football game.

Despite the established new rules, football stayed and is still considered as a great sport even at present.

American Football: Football or Gridiron?

American Football is commonly known as football in the United States and gridiron in Canada. At present, football has become a very popular entertainment not only in America but also in other parts of the world.

Americans do not only consider football as a mere form of entertainment.

It has become a tradition to them. It has grown over the past years and became a part of their lives.

Rules and Regulations

Football, like any other sports, has its own rules and regulations that must be followed. Below are the set of rules in playing football.


The Football field is a rectangular-shaped field that measures 300-feet long and 153-feet wide.

It has white markings, also called as yard makers, which help athletes, game officials, and viewers follow and keep an eye on the ball.

The end zone is the most fundamental part of the game field. It is 30-feet long, and each end of the field is significant.

Game Time

Each game will last for 60 minutes, and it is divided in quarters of 15 minutes. At halftime, a 12-minute break will be allotted for each team.

As the teams change ends, there are 2-minute breaks given at the end of the 1st and 3rd quarters.


Each team consists of 11 players playing on the field. The team is divided into 3 different units.

The first unit is the offensive unit where offensive players are on the field when their team possesses the ball.

The second one is the defensive unit where the defensive players line up to block the other team’s offense. 

The last unit is the special unit, and it appears in situations where kicking is needed such as field goals, kick off, and punts.

Scoring System

The objective of a football game is to score more points than the opponent. Here are four ways on how to score in the game.


Touchdown is equivalent to 6 points, and it is the highest single score in the game.

Aside from its high score, it can also give the team a higher chance of gaining an extra point.

To gain 6 points, the ball must reach the end zone from the goal line, a mishandled ball that ended up in the end zone, or a kick off that went straight to the end zone by the special team.

Extra point

Right after a touchdown at the opposite team’s two-yard line, the ball is placed. The offense team is given two options; to either kick or throw the ball at the end zone.

If the offense team successfully kicks the ball throughout the goal posts, they will earn one point.

However, if the offense team chose to run and throw the ball to the end zone, and it reaches the end zone successfully, they will earn two points.

Most offense teams in the football history prefer kicking the ball for an extra point rather than running or throwing the ball to gain two points. Gaining two points is much more difficult than gaining a point.

For this reason, most offense teams do not risk their chance of gaining one point.

Field Goals

When an offense team does not score for touchdown, the team may try to kick a field goal. A field goal is equivalent to 3 points, and it is scored through a placekick.

Safety Points

A safety point is equivalent to 2 points, and it can be gained in two different ways; when a foul is committed by the offense team in their end zone, or when a player that carries the ball is tackled on their own end zone.

All About a Football

A football is an air-inflated ball. Long before, in the early stages of the game, people used natural materials in creating a football.

They used an inflated bladder of a pig. In later years, they covered it with leather, and that gave way to the rise of “pigskin” which was considered as an American slang term.

In comparison, modern balls are made of easy tanned and durable materials such as plastic or rubber bladder framed by a pebble-grained leather cover.

The size and shape of the ball vary from one game to another, but a standard basic shape is followed.

The exact shape and size of the ball is normally indicated in the rules of the game.

Sphere shape

A sphere shape is defined as a round solid figure with points of its surface that is equidistant to its center. A sphere-shaped football is commonly used in Gaelic football and Association football.

Prolate Spheroid

Prolate Spheroid is an elongated spheroid-shaped ball. This type of ball with rounded ends is used in Australian football and rugby codes.

Prolate Spheroid balls with pointed ends are mostly used in American and Canadian football.

Safety in Playing Football

Football is a full-bodied sport. This is why accidents and injuries are most likely to happen not only during the games but also during training sessions.

Football players are expected to wear their uniform and a set of gears and equipment when playing.

They are required to wear proper uniform, including a football helmet, mouth guard, thigh pad, chest protector, knee pad, and a shoulder pad.

Injuries mostly happen on the lower extremities of the body, specifically on the knee.

The most frequent injuries are sprains, bruises, strains, and the serious type of injuries are dislocations, concussions, and fractures.


To answer the most common question of a lot of people on why is American football called football is to simply go back to its roots, find out its origin, and dive into its history.

Football evolved through time, and it evolved in a lot of aspects. Football rules had a lot of changes throughout the years.

It also took years for the sport to have a standardized set of rules where all competitions follow.

However, even if the rules were amended to make the sport safer, football still remains as one of the most played sport.