Football is the most popular spectator sport in the United States, and football fans of all ages love this Scramble Squares® puzzle, which depicts football played outdoors and in the mud!
American football is much more than a sport. It has become a spectacle. Modern gladiators– huge, powerful, fleet footed and graceful– advance strategies with precision team coordination of individual responsibilities in a struggle to capture their opponent’s turf. Autumn’s arenas fill with virtual cities of screaming, cheering and chanting fans of all ages, accompanied by marching bands, mascots, cheerleaders, baton twirlers and tailgate parties. Even more than a spectacle, the fall weekend football ritual has become a frenzied celebration of social renewal after a summer away from school or vacationing from work.
All of this excitement had its start in the mid 1800s when Webb Ellis of England’s Rugby School scored a goal in a game of English soccer football by picking up the ball and running it over the goal line in a desperate attempt to win the game before the school’s five o’clock curfew bell. From that day forward, English football divided into two distinct games: the “handling game,” rugby, where the ball could be advanced by carrying it, and the “dribbling game,” soccer, where the ball must be advanced by kicking it.
An unruly and violent version of rugby, having no set number of players, no prescribed playing field and no time limit, emerged in America in the 1860s at eastern universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown. Adapting a version of rugby rules from the London Football Association in 1868, William S. Grummere of Princeton founded intercollegiate American football. On November 6, 1869, the first intercollegiate football game was played in New Brunswick, New Jersey between Princeton and Rutgers. Twenty-five players on each side battled for one hour on a rectangular field to a 6 to 4 Rutgers victory before a crowd of approximately one hundred spectators.