History of American Football

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11658

Football is football, right? Well, it depends on what country you are in! In America, football has existed since the late 1800s. Check out the history of the old pigskin for some surprises!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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1-2-3 Hike! American football has become one of the most popular sports in America and has begun to spark interest worldwide.

Watch this short highlight video below to see if you catch the football bug!

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  • Why has football become such a beloved sport?
  • What makes football different from other sports?
  • Where did football come from?

Football is one of America's most successful and popular sports.

Over one million high school students play the game, and another 20,000 to 30,000 continue to the college level annually.

Football has become America's premiere spectator sport. The 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL), the top professional football league in the world, generated approximately 18.6 billion dollars of revenue in 2022.

That's not so bad for a sport started in muddy fields by scrappy players in the northeastern United States. The name of the sport is a strange one — football — considering the feet don't have that much to do with the ball.

In the rest of the world, outside the United States, football is the sport Americans call soccer. By studying the origin of these names, you can learn a lot about America's most beloved sport.

Read Soccer vs football: Why do Americans call the sport something different? or watch the video below to learn the origins of the words football, rugby, and soccer.

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Next, answer the following questions.

  • Why did Americans continue to use the word soccer, while the rest of the world dropped it?
  • What is one difference between American football and rugby? Between American football and soccer?
  • Would it be accurate to suggest that American football developed out of soccer? Why or why not?

Great work gathering information about the history of the modern sport of football.

In the Got It? section, delve into the details to see how the rules changed and why the early dangers of the game forced modifications to save lives!

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