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Across The Big Pond Football In America

Apr 12, 2008
While the world cedes the credit of developing football to England, the game has spread around the globe and is inarguably the most popular sport on the planet. However, football has taken a varied path in the United States.

To clear up the terminology; Americans insist on calling football by the term soccer as they have developed a rugby-like game of their own that is referred to locally as football. However, what is being discussed here is soccer football.

Despite the political disagreements from the eighteenth century, there are still close ties between England and the United States and football was played in the States not long after its codification in England. While the original "Boston Game" allowed the use of hands to move the ball, United States universities upheld and began using Football Association rules in 1869. At the time even the Americans were still calling it football. Calling the game soccer only became common usage in the early twentieth century as their own rugby-like game took over the title of football.

After World War II there were a number of football leagues created in the United States. After the war they were combined to become the U.S. Soccer Football Association. Under pressure from the confusion caused by two distinctly different games with the same name, the word "football" was dropped from their title in 1974.

The United States Soccer Federation is the umbrella organization that oversees a number of leagues both professional and amateur. There are leagues specially created for different school level participation and gender specific games. Within the past twenty-five years football has seen a major popularity growth especially among primary and secondary school levels. Many secondary schools now offer both versions of football in their athletic programs.

The simplicity of uniform and equipment makes football a fairly inexpensive sport for public school systems to maintain as compared to many other popular school sports. Even with less protective gear to wear, there are consistently fewer major injuries in soccer football as opposed to the other two major sports of basketball and American rugby football.

Since the turn of the millennium indoor football has swept the States and even invaded Mexico. Played on a smaller field with fewer players, indoor football is very quick paced and is sometimes referred to as "fast football". Surrounded by a six-foot high wall, there are some variance in the rules from regular football. There is no offside rule and the wall is used in some plays. A stoppage only occurs if the ball hits the ceiling or goes over the wall.

Other differences to association football include and extra penalty card, usually blue, which is used to indicate the temporary removal of a player into a hockey inspired penalty box. This penalty can have serious repercussions as there are fewer players to start with and the loss of one player is more damaging to the undermanned side. The smaller sized pitch had been allowing too many kickoff scores so the creation of zones has developed to give a more action-packed game. The ball cannot travel through a zone without having been touched by a player. The ball used in indoor football is heavier, harder to control and is generally covered in a suede covering.

So football in the United States is alive and well. With the acceptance of International Football Association rules the differences in the game is kept minimal so that regardless of the continent the avid footballer is on, there will be a game on somewhere nearby.
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