American Football originates from the English sport of Rugby. It is played between two teams on a field of 100 yards (120 total including the end zones) with a brown oval shaped object called a Football. A team’s objective is to get it’s offense on the field as often as possible (to score) and keep the opponent’s offense off the field when possible, and limit their performance when they are on. Team’s score by driving the ball down the field by running and passing. The most common form of scoring is the touchdown (six points), followed by field goals (3), and (rarely) safeties (2). Immediately following the scoring of a touchdown the scoring team is given the option of performing a two-point conversion (worth 2 points) or the point-after-touchdown (PAT, 1 point). Field goals and PATs are scored by kicking the Football between a tall goal post located behind the end zone. Professional and collegiate games last full 60-minutes while high school games normally run at 48. It’s important to note that due to timeouts and play huddling Football games normally last between 3 and 4 hours.
Critics (normally foreign) seek to compare the playing style of American Football to Rugby. This is inaccurate, however. They are two different sports. While in Football certain positions require significantly larger stature and others do not, virtually all positions in Rugby require relatively large size. Linebackers, Tight Ends, Full Backs and (larger) Quarterbacks are often suitable for Rugby while positions such as Safeties, Half Backs, and Cornerbacks are normally not. Lineman can also suitable for Rugby play but few are. Unlike Rugby, American Football is a strategic sport and hence more importance is placed upon skill in positions. This, along with size differences, is why players rarely play both defense and offense.
Unlike Rugby, by rule, Football play requires one wears protective gear. While in Rugby very large players tend to tackle other very large players, in Football very large players tend to tackle players inferior in size to them which can result in higher rates of injury. In addition to this, turf is becoming increasingly common as a replacement for grass in Football stadiums again reinforcing the necessity for protective gear. Attire includes a hard helmet with facemask, numbered jersey for identification, shoulder and chest pads, tight pants with buttock, knee, and thigh pads, and cleats. Regardless of protective gear, Football has a higher injury rate than Rugby.
It is played on High School, Collegiate, and Professional (namely NFL) levels. Rules are generally the same throughout all levels but differ to varying degrees by league and skill level. American Football’s popularity rages in America overwhelmingly as the most-watched sport, but has failed to catch on in popularity in foreign countries (only Canada has a variation). Because of this, however, it remains a trademark of modern American culture.
Each season the National Football League organizes the most popular American Football teams for five months of hard-hitting action.