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By Kathy Quatraro

Could the President really outlaw football? More importantly, why would he want to? During his term in office, President Theodore Roosevelt attempted to outlaw football. Walter Camp, nicknamed the Godfather of Football, helped create “the most breathtaking game on earth”. Mr. Camp worked diligently for many years at making football the unique and great sport we enjoy today.

In 1875, two hundred spectators paid fifty cents each to see Harvard battle Yale. Players and fans were immediately hooked. As the years passed, Walter Camp created rules that made football better and more fair then when the game was first created. Unfortunately, better did not always mean safer. Each time safer rules were put into play, coaches seemed to always find ways around them. Players did not wear the protective gear worn today, adding to the danger, so by 1893 several colleges dropped their football programs. President Roosevelt decided he wanted football outlawed twelve years later after eighteen college players died while playing.

Over the years, the rules of the game have changed often as the game itself has evolved. Although the player's safety is always a priority, the last several years have been especially dangerous in the game of football. Once again football fans are faced with the possibility that their favorite game might be outlawed. Mostly because concussions and spinal cord injuries are on the rise.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a hard blow to the head. After you take a hard hit to your head, besides a bad headache, you might feel nauseous, have a hard time concentrating and forget things. A doctor would take pictures of your brain, called a CT Scan or MRI to see if you have a concussion.

Many of your great grandfathers may brag "When I played football, we didn't need all that padding and protection. That's when football was football.”

Your grandfather may be right about not needing all that padding, but then again football players back then were the size of your aunt. Not much taller then 5' 4" and 140 pounds compared to the average player today at 6' 2" and 280 pounds.

A properly fitted helmet, face mask and mouth guard is the best defense against concussions, helping to drop fatal head injuries enough to keep football around awhile. When helmets were first introduced in 1896 they weren't much more than a leather cap offering little protection to the face and head. Now helmets are made of a hard plastic and lined with padding.

The right rules also protect today's football players. The players themselves have become weapons. Imagine being hit full force in the head, stomach or thigh by a huge hard, plastic bullet, powered by 300 pounds of human. Yep, rules were needed. Today if a player uses his helmet as a weapon, not only is he given a penalty on the field but off as well.

Fun Football Facts

  • Originally a touch down was worth one point and a field goal was worth four.
  • The Center snapped the ball with his foot instead of his hands to the Quarterback, who could only hand off the ball. There weren't any pass plays until high school football players brought them up to the college level. A high school player that perfected the pass play earned himself a college scholarship.
  • The first college player to play professional football joined the Chicago Bears.
  • The first Super Bowl game was the Kansas City Chiefs against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won.
  • The Kansas City Chief's owner named the Super Bowl after watching his daughter play with a super ball.
  • The first football was a pigs bladder. It took several players to blow it up.
  • In the 1900's the pigs bladder was replaced by a round ball covered in leather.
  • The football changed from round to oblong with the creation of the forward pass in the 20th century.
So you want to play football!
There are several ways to get involved with youth football in your neighborhood.

Pop Warner Football is the oldest youth football program. It was started in 1929 to keep idle kids out of trouble in Philadelphia. There are no tryouts, each player is guaranteed to play in each game. Both boys and girls are encouraged to play, but you need to keep your academic scores high. Pop Warner gives out collage scholarships each year to deserving kids involved in their program.

Community Park Districts also offer the chance to play youth football. They may not have the history of Pop Warner, but the programs generally run with the same general rules. There aren't any tryouts. Also, because most youth sports programs are paid for by parents of the players, all players get playing time during the games.

If you want to play football, check into your community and see what they offer for youth programs. If you feel your family can't afford the extra expense, most programs will help out anyone interested in getting on the field.

To many avid football fans, football will always be "the most breathtaking game on earth." As players get bigger and stronger the game will continue to be one of the most dangerous sports to play. The coaches will continue to draw up plays to get around the new rules created to keep players safe. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the NFL will continue to change the rules to keep players safe. This has been going on for over 130 years, and hopefully will for another 100 or so years.




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