American football

American football

Overview
American football is a sport
Team sport
A team sport includes any sport which involves players working together towards a shared objective. A team sport is an activity in which a group of individuals, on the same team, work together to accomplish an ultimate goal which is usually to win. This can be done in a number of ways such as...

 played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone
End zone
In gridiron-based codes of football, the end zone refers to the scoring area on the field. It is the area between the end line and goal line bounded by the sidelines. There are two end zones, each being on an opposite side of the field...

. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by running
Running back
A running back is a gridiron football position, who is typically lined up in the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.There are usually one or two running...

 with it or throwing it to a teammate. Points can be scored by carrying the ball over the opponent's goal line
Touchdown
A touchdown is a means of scoring in American and Canadian football. Whether running, passing, returning a kickoff or punt, or recovering a turnover, a team scores a touchdown by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone.-Description:...

, catching a pass thrown over that goal line, kicking
Placekicker
Placekicker, or simply kicker , is the title of the player in American and Canadian football who is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals, extra points...

 the ball through the opponent's goal posts or tackling an opposing ball carrier in his own end zone.

In the United States, the major forms are high school football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

, college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 and professional football.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'American football'
Start a new discussion about 'American football'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
American football is a sport
Team sport
A team sport includes any sport which involves players working together towards a shared objective. A team sport is an activity in which a group of individuals, on the same team, work together to accomplish an ultimate goal which is usually to win. This can be done in a number of ways such as...

 played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone
End zone
In gridiron-based codes of football, the end zone refers to the scoring area on the field. It is the area between the end line and goal line bounded by the sidelines. There are two end zones, each being on an opposite side of the field...

. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by running
Running back
A running back is a gridiron football position, who is typically lined up in the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.There are usually one or two running...

 with it or throwing it to a teammate. Points can be scored by carrying the ball over the opponent's goal line
Touchdown
A touchdown is a means of scoring in American and Canadian football. Whether running, passing, returning a kickoff or punt, or recovering a turnover, a team scores a touchdown by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone.-Description:...

, catching a pass thrown over that goal line, kicking
Placekicker
Placekicker, or simply kicker , is the title of the player in American and Canadian football who is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals, extra points...

 the ball through the opponent's goal posts or tackling an opposing ball carrier in his own end zone.

In the United States, the major forms are high school football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

, college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 and professional football. Each of these are played under slightly different rules. High school football is governed by the National Federation of State High School Associations
National Federation of State High School Associations
The National Federation of State High School Associations is the body that writes the rules of competition for most high school sports and activities in the United States. Most high schools, whether public or private, belong to their state's high school association; in turn, each state association...

 and college football by the National Collegiate Athletic Association
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is an athletic association that organizes college and university-level athletic programs. Membership in the NAIA consists of smaller colleges and universities across the United States. The NAIA allows colleges and universities outside the USA...

. The major league for professional football is the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

.

American football is closely related to Canadian football
Canadian football
Canadian football is a form of gridiron football played exclusively in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play long and wide attempting to advance a pointed prolate spheroid ball into the opposing team's scoring area...

 but with some differences in rules and the field. Both sports can be traced to early versions of association football and rugby football
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

.

History



The history of American football can be traced to early versions of rugby football
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

 and association football. Both games have their origins in varieties of football
Football
Football may refer to one of a number of team sports which all involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score a goal. The most popular of these sports worldwide is association football, more commonly known as just "football" or "soccer"...

 played in the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century, in which a ball is kicked at a goal
Goal (sport)
Goal refers to a method of scoring in many sports. It can also refer to the physical structure or area of the playing surface where scoring occurs....

 and/or run over a line. Many games known as "football" were being played at colleges and universities in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. Modern American football grew off a historical game played between Harvard and McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

 in 1874.

Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

 and its neighbor, Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, played the first game of intercollegiate football on 6 November 1869 on a plot of ground where the present-day Rutgers gymnasium now stands in New Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers won that first game, 6-4.

American football resulted from several major divergences from rugby football
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

, most notably the rule changes instituted by Walter Camp
Walter Camp
Walter Chauncey Camp was an American football player, coach, and sports writer known as the "Father of American Football". With John Heisman, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, Fielding H. Yost, and George Halas, Camp was one of the most accomplished persons in the early history of American football...

, considered the "Father of American Football." Among these important changes were the introduction of the line of scrimmage
Line of scrimmage
In American and Canadian football a line of scrimmage is an imaginary transverse line beyond which a team cannot cross until the next play has begun...

 and of down-and-distance rules. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, game play developments by college coaches such as Eddie Cochems
Eddie Cochems
Edward Bulwer "Eddie" Cochems was an American football player and coach. He played football for the University of Wisconsin from 1898 to 1901 and was the head football coach at North Dakota State , Clemson , Saint Louis University , and Maine . During his three years at St...

, Amos Alonzo Stagg
Amos Alonzo Stagg
Amos Alonzo Stagg was an American athlete and pioneering college coach in multiple sports, primarily American football...

, Knute Rockne
Knute Rockne
Knute Kenneth Rockne was an American football player and coach. He is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in college football history...

, and Glenn "Pop" Warner
Glenn Scobey Warner
Glenn Scobey Warner , most commonly known as Pop Warner, was an American football player and coach...

 helped take advantage of the newly introduced forward pass
Forward pass
In several forms of football a forward pass is when the ball is thrown in the direction that the offensive team is trying to move, towards the defensive team's goal line...

.

The popularity of collegiate football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

grew as it became the dominant version of the sport for the first half of the twentieth century. Bowl game
Bowl game
In North America, a bowl game is commonly considered to refer to one of a number of post-season college football games. Prior to 2002, bowl game statistics were not included in players' career totals and the games were mostly considered to be exhibition games involving a payout to participating...

s, a college football tradition, attracted a national audience for collegiate teams. Bolstered by fierce rivalries, college football still holds widespread appeal in the US.

The origin of professional football can be traced back to 1892, with William "Pudge" Heffelfinger's
William Heffelfinger
-External links:...

 $500 contract to play in a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association
Allegheny Athletic Association
The Allegheny Athletic Association was an athletic club that fielded the first ever professional American football player and later the first fully professional football team. The organization was founded in 1890 as a regional athletic club in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, which is today the North...

 against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club
Pittsburgh Athletic Club (football)
The Pittsburgh Athletic Club football team, established in 1891, was based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1892 the intense competition between two Pittsburgh-area clubs, the Allegheny Athletic Association and the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, led to William Heffelfinger becoming the first known...

. The first Professional "league" was the Ohio League
Ohio League
The Ohio League was an informal and loose association of American football clubs active between 1903 and 1919 that competed for the Ohio Independent Championship . As the name implied, its teams were based in Ohio...

, formed in 1903, and the first Professional Football championship game was between the Buffalo Prospects
Buffalo (NFL)
Buffalo, New York had a turbulent, early-era National Football League team that operated under three different names and several different owners between the 1910s and 1920s...

 and the Canton Bulldogs
Canton Bulldogs
The Canton Bulldogs were a professional American football team, based in Canton, Ohio. They played in the Ohio League from 1903 to 1906 and 1911 to 1919, and its successor, the National Football League, from 1920 to 1923 and again from 1925 to 1926. The Bulldogs would go on to win the 1917, 1918...

 in 1919. In 1920, the American Professional Football Association was formed. The first game was played in Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

 on October 3, 1920 with the host Triangles
Dayton Triangles
The Dayton Triangles were an original franchise of the American Professional Football Association in 1920. The Triangles were based in Dayton, Ohio, and took their nickname from their home field, Triangle Park, which was located at the confluence of the Great Miami and Stillwater Rivers in north...

 defeating the Columbus Panhandles
Columbus (NFL)
The Columbus Panhandles were a professional football team from Columbus, Ohio who played in the "Ohio League" and later the American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League...

 14–0. The league changed its name to the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 (NFL) two years later, and eventually became the major league
Major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada
The major professional sports leagues, or simply major leagues, in the United States and Canada are the highest professional competitions in team sports...

 of American football. Initially a sport of Midwestern industrial towns in the United States, professional football eventually became a national phenomenon. Football's increasing popularity is usually traced to the 1958 NFL Championship Game
NFL Championship Game, 1958
The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was played on December 28, 1958 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first ever National Football League playoff game to go into sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17. The game has since...

, a contest that has been dubbed the "Greatest Game Ever Played". A rival league to the NFL, the American Football League
American Football League
The American Football League was a major American Professional Football league that operated from 1960 until 1969, when the established National Football League merged with it. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence...

 (AFL), began play in 1960; the pressure it put on the senior league led to a merger between the two leagues and the creation of the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

, which has become the most watched television event in the United States on an annual basis.

High school football dates to the 1880s and also enjoys regional popularity.

Field and players


American football is played on a field 360 by. The longer boundary lines are sidelines, while the shorter boundary lines are end lines. Sidelines and end lines are out of bounds. Near each end of the field is a goal line; they are 100 yards (91.4 m) apart. A scoring area called an end zone
End zone
In gridiron-based codes of football, the end zone refers to the scoring area on the field. It is the area between the end line and goal line bounded by the sidelines. There are two end zones, each being on an opposite side of the field...

extends 10 yards (9.1 m) beyond each goal line to each end line. The end zone includes the goal line but not the end line. While the playing field is effectively flat, it is common for a field to be built with a slight crown—with the middle of the field higher than the sides—to allow water to drain from the field.

Yard lines cross the field every 5 yards (4.6 m), and are numbered every 10 yards from each goal line to the 50-yard line, or midfield (similar to a typical rugby league
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

 field). Two rows of short lines, known as inbounds lines or hash marks, run at 1-yard (91.4 cm) intervals perpendicular to the sidelines near the middle of the field. All plays start with the ball on or between the hash marks. Because of the arrangement of the lines, the field is occasionally referred to as a gridiron in a reference to the cooking grill
Gridiron (cooking)
A gridiron is a metal grate with parallel bars typically used for grilling meat, fish, vegetables, or combinations of such foods. It may also be two such grids, hinged to fold together, to securely hold food while grilling over an open flame.-Development:...

 with a similar pattern of lines.

At the back of each end zone are two goalposts (also called uprights) connected by a crossbar 10 feet (3 m) from the ground. For high skill levels, the posts are 18 in 6 in (5.64 m) apart. For lower skill levels, these are widened to 23 in 4 in (7.11 m).

Each team has 11 players on the field at a time. Usually there are many more players off the field (an NFL team has a limit of 53 players on their roster, 46 of which can be dressed for a game). However, teams may substitute for any or all of their players during the breaks between plays. As a result, players have very specialized roles and are divided into three separate units: the offense
American football positions
In American football, each team has eleven players on the field at one time. Because the rules allow unlimited substitution between plays, the types of players on the field for each team differ depending on the situation...

, the defense
American football positions
In American football, each team has eleven players on the field at one time. Because the rules allow unlimited substitution between plays, the types of players on the field for each team differ depending on the situation...

 and the special teams. It is rare for all team members to participate in a given game, as some roles have little utility beyond that of an injury substitute.

Start of halves


The game begins with a coin toss
Coin flipping
Coin flipping or coin tossing or heads or tails is the practice of throwing a coin in the air to choose between two alternatives, sometimes to resolve a dispute between two parties...

 to determine which team will kick off to begin the game and which goal each team will defend. The options are presented again to start the second half; the choices for the first half do not automatically determine the start of the second half. The referee conducts the coin toss with the captains (or sometimes coaches) of the opposing teams. The team that wins the coin toss has three options:
  1. They may choose whether to kick or receive the opening kickoff.
  2. They may choose which goal to defend.
  3. They may choose to defer the first choice to the other team and have first choice to start the second half.

Whatever the first team chooses, the second team has the option on the other choice (for example, if the first team elects to receive at the start of the game, the second team can decide which goal to defend).

At the start of the second half, the options to kick, receive, or choose a goal to defend are presented to the captains again. The team which did not choose first to start the first half (or which deferred its privilege to choose first) now gets first choice of options.

Game duration


A standard football game consists of four 15-minute quarters (12-minute quarters in high-school football and often shorter at lower levels), with a half-time
Half-time
In some team sports such as association football and rugby, matches are played in two halves. Half-time is the name given to the interval between the two halves of the match...

 intermission after the second quarter. Depending upon the level of competition, the duration of the half-time ranges from 10 to 20 minutes. At all levels, a down (play) that begins before time expires is allowed to continue until its completion, even after the clock reaches zero. The clock is also stopped after certain plays, therefore, a game can last considerably longer (often more than three hours in real time), and if a game is broadcast on television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, TV timeouts
Television timeout
A television timeout , is a break in a televised live event to allow television advertisements to be shown. This has the advantage of allowing the networks to take an advertising break without causing viewers to miss part of the action....

 are taken at certain intervals of the game to broadcast commercials
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 outside of game action. If an NFL game is tied after four quarters, the teams play an additional period lasting up to 15 minutes. In a regular season NFL overtime game, the first team that scores wins, even if the other team does not get a possession; this is referred to as sudden death. However, in a post-season NFL game during the playoffs, if the first team with possession scores only a field goal, the other team is allowed the opportunity to match or better this score. This rule only affects playoff games in overtime in which the first team with possession scores a field goal: if the first team with possession scores a touchdown, the sudden death rules take effect. In a regular-season NFL game, if neither team scores in overtime, the game is a tie. In an NFL playoff game, additional overtime periods are played, as needed, to determine a winner. College overtime rules
Overtime (sports)
Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw. In most sports, this extra period is only played if the game is required to have a clear winner, as in single-elimination...

 are more complicated.





Advancing the ball


The team that takes possession of the ball (the offense) has four attempts, called downs, in which to advance the ball at least 10 yards toward their opponent's (the defense's) end zone. When the offense succeeds in gaining at least 10 yards, it gets a first down, meaning the team starts a new set of four downs to gain yet another 10 yards or to score. If the offense fails to gain a first down (10 yards) after four downs, the other team gets possession of the ball at the point where the fourth down ended, beginning with their first down to advance the ball in the opposite direction.

Except at the beginning of halves and after scores, the ball is always put into play by a snap
Snap (football)
A snap starts each American football and Canadian football play from scrimmage.-Action:...

. Offensive players line up facing defensive players at the line of scrimmage
Line of scrimmage
In American and Canadian football a line of scrimmage is an imaginary transverse line beyond which a team cannot cross until the next play has begun...

(the position on the field where the play begins). One offensive player, the center
Center (American football)
Center is a position in American football and Canadian football . The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense...

, then passes (or "snaps") the ball backwards between his legs to a teammate behind him, usually the quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

.

Players can then advance the ball in two ways:
  1. By running with the ball, also known as rushing
    Rush (American football)
    Rushing has two different meanings in gridiron football .-Offense:The first is an action taken by the offensive team that means to advance the ball by running, as opposed to passing. A run is technically any play that does not involve a forward pass...

    .
  2. By throwing the ball to a teammate, known as a pass or as passing the football. If the pass is thrown down-field, it is known as a forward pass
    Forward pass
    In several forms of football a forward pass is when the ball is thrown in the direction that the offensive team is trying to move, towards the defensive team's goal line...

    . The forward pass is a key factor distinguishing American and Canadian football from other football sports. The offense can throw the ball forward only once during a down and only from behind the line of scrimmage. However, the ball can be handed-off to another player or thrown, pitched, or tossed sideways or backwards (a lateral pass
    Lateral pass
    In American football, a lateral pass or lateral, officially backward pass , occurs when the ball carrier throws the football to any teammate behind him or directly next to him...

    ) at any time.


A down ends, and the ball becomes dead, after any of the following:
  • The player with the ball is forced to the ground (a tackle) or has his forward progress halted by members of the other team (as determined by an official
    Official (American football)
    In American football, an official is a person who has responsibility in enforcing the rules and maintaining the order of the game.During professional and college football games, seven officials operate on the field...

    ).
  • A forward pass flies beyond the dimensions of the field (out of bounds
    Out of bounds
    Out of bounds is the area outside the boundaries of a sport's field of playOut of Bounds may also refer to:* Out of Bounds , a movie starring Anthony Michael Hall...

    ) or touches the ground before it is caught. This is known as an incomplete pass
    Incomplete pass
    An incomplete pass is a term in American football which means that a legal forward pass hits the ground before a player on either team gains possession. For example, if the quarterback throws the ball to one of his wide receivers, and the receiver either does not touch it or tries to catch it...

    . The ball is returned to the most recent line of scrimmage for the next down.
  • The ball or the player with the ball goes out of bounds.
  • A team scores.


Officials blow a whistle to notify players that the down is over.

Before each down, each team chooses a play
Play from scrimmage
A play from scrimmage is the activity of the games of Canadian football and American football during which one team tries to advance the ball or to score, and the other team tries to stop them or take the ball away. Once a play is over, and before the next play starts, the football is considered...

, or coordinated movements and actions, that the players should follow on a down. Sometimes, downs themselves are referred to as "plays."

Change of possession


The offense maintains possession of the ball unless one of the following things occurs:
  • The team fails to get a first down— i.e., in four downs they fail to move the ball past a line 10 yards ahead of where they got their last first down. The defensive team takes over the ball at the spot where the 4th-down play ends. A change of possession in this manner is commonly called a turnover on downs
    Turnover on downs
    In American football, a turnover on downs occurs when a team fails to convert a fourth down into a first down by gaining the required yardage.A team has four chances to gain ten yards or to score. Any ground gained during one down short of these ten yards is kept for the next chance...

    .
  • The offense scores a touchdown or field goal. The team that scored then kicks the ball to the other team in a special play called a kickoff
    Kickoff (American football)
    A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in American football and Canadian football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team"...

    .
  • The offense punts the ball to the defense. A punt
    Punt (football)
    In some codes of football, a punt is a play in which a player drops the ball and kicks it before it touches the ground. A punt is in contrast to a drop kick, in which the ball touches the ground before being kicked....

    is a kick in which a player drops the ball and kicks it before it hits the ground. Punts are nearly always made on fourth down, when the offensive team does not want to risk giving up the ball to the other team at its current spot on the field (through a failed attempt to make a first down) and feels it is too far from the other team's goal post to attempt a field goal.
  • A defensive player catches a forward pass. This is called an interception, and the player who makes the interception can run with the ball until he is tackled, forced out of bounds, or scores.
  • An offensive player drops the ball (a fumble
    Fumble
    A fumble in American and Canadian football occurs when a player, who has possession and control of the ball loses it before being downed or scoring. By rule, it is any act other than passing, kicking or successful handing that results in loss of player possession...

    ) and a defensive player picks it up. As with interceptions, a player recovering a fumble can run with the ball until tackled, forced out of bounds, or scoring. Passes that are thrown either backwards or parallel with the line of scrimmage (lateral passes) that are not caught do not cause the down to end as incomplete forward passes do; instead the ball is still live as if it had been fumbled. Lost fumbles and interceptions are together known as turnovers
    Turnover (football)
    In American football, a turnover occurs when the team with the ball loses possession of the ball, which is then gained by the other team. The two events that are officially classified as "turnovers" are fumbles or interceptions In American football, a turnover occurs when the team with the ball...

    .
  • The offensive team misses a field goal attempt. The defensive team gets the ball at the spot where the previous play began (or, in the NFL, at the spot of the kick). If the unsuccessful kick was attempted from within 20 yards of the end zone, the other team gets the ball at its own 20 yard line (that is, 20 yards from the end zone). If a field goal is missed or blocked and the ball remains in the field of play, a defensive player may pick up the ball and attempt to advance it. In this last case, possession is awarded at the spot where the recovering player is ruled down.
  • While in his own end zone, an offensive ball carrier is tackled, forced out of bounds, loses the ball out of bounds, or the offense commits certain fouls in the end zone. This fairly rare occurrence is called a safety.
  • An offensive ball carrier fumbles the ball forward into the opposing end zone, and then the ball goes out of bounds. This rare occurrence leads to a touchback
    Touchback
    In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead behind or above a goal line and the team who is attacking that goal line is responsible for the ball being there. Responsibility is determined by which team gave the ball the impetus...

    , with the ball going over to the opposing team at their 20 yard line (Note that touchbacks during non-offensive special teams plays, such as punts and kickoffs, are quite common).

Scoring



A team scores points by the following plays:
  • A touchdown
    Touchdown
    A touchdown is a means of scoring in American and Canadian football. Whether running, passing, returning a kickoff or punt, or recovering a turnover, a team scores a touchdown by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone.-Description:...

    (TD) is worth 6 points. It is scored when a player runs the ball into or catches a pass in his opponent's end zone. A touchdown is analogous to a try
    Try
    A try is the major way of scoring points in rugby league and rugby union football. A try is scored by grounding the ball in the opposition's in-goal area...

     in rugby. Unlike rugby, a player does not have to touch the ball to the ground to score; a touchdown is scored any time a player has possession of the ball while any part of the ball is beyond the vertical plane created by the leading edge of the opponent's goal line stripe (the stripe itself is a part of the end zone).
    • After a touchdown, the scoring team attempts a try (which is also analogous to the conversion in rugby). The ball is placed at the other team's 3 yard line (the 2 yard line in the NFL). The team can attempt to kick it through the goalposts (over the crossbar and between the uprights) in the manner of a field goal for 1 point (an extra point
      Convert
      The convert or try, in American football known as "point after", and Canadian football "Point after touchdown", is a one-scrimmage down played immediately after a touchdown during which the scoring team is allowed to attempt to score an extra one point by kicking the ball through the uprights , or...

      or point-after touchdown (PAT)), or run or pass it into the end zone in the manner of a touchdown for 2 points (a two-point conversion
      Two-point conversion
      In American and Canadian football, a two-point conversion is a play a team attempts instead of kicking a one-point convert immediately after it scores a touchdown...

      ). In college football, if the defense intercepts or recovers a fumble during a one or two point conversion attempt and returns it to the opposing end zone, the defensive team is awarded the two points.
  • A field goal
    Field goal (football)
    A field goal in American football and Canadian football is a goal that may be scored during general play . Field goals may be scored by a placekick or the now practically extinct drop kick.The drop kick fell out of favor in 1934 when the shape of the ball was changed...

    (FG) is worth 3 points, and it is scored by kicking the ball through the goalposts defended by the opposition. Field goals may be place kicked (kicked when the ball is held vertically against the ground by a teammate) or drop kick
    Drop kick
    A drop kick is a type of kick in various codes of football. It involves a player dropping the ball and then kicking it when it bounces off the ground. It contrasts to a punt, wherein the player kicks the ball without letting it hit the ground first....

    ed (extremely uncommon in the modern game due to the better accuracy of place kicks, with only two successful drop kicks in sixty-plus years in the NFL). A field goal is usually attempted on fourth down instead of a punt when the ball is close enough to the opponent's goalposts, or, when there is little or no time left to otherwise score.
  • A safety, worth 2 points, is scored by the opposing team when the team in possession at the end of a down is responsible for the ball becoming dead behind its own goal line. For instance, a safety is scored by the defense if an offensive player is tackled, goes out of bounds, or fumbles the ball out of bounds in his own end zone. Safeties are relatively rare. Note that, though even more rare, the team initially on offense during a down can score a safety if a player of the original defense gains possession of the ball in front of his own goal line and then carries the ball or fumbles it into his own end zone where it becomes dead. However, if the ball becomes dead behind the goal line of the team in possession and its opponent is responsible for the ball being there (for instance, if the defense intercepts a forward pass in its own end zone and the ball becomes dead before the ball is advanced out of the end zone) it is a touchback: no points are scored and the team last in possession keeps possession with a first down at its own 20 yard line. In the extremely rare instance that a safety is scored on a try, it is worth only 1 point.

Kickoffs and free kicks



Each half begins with a kickoff
Kickoff (American football)
A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in American football and Canadian football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team"...

. Teams also kick off after scoring touchdowns and field goals. The ball is kicked using a kicking tee from the team's own 35 yard line in the NFL (as of the 2011 season) and 30 yard line in college football (as of the 2007 season). The other team's kick returner tries to catch the ball and advance it as far as possible. Where he is stopped is the point where the offense will begin its drive, or series of offensive plays. If the kick returner catches the ball in his own end zone, he can either run with the ball, or elect for a touchback
Touchback
In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead behind or above a goal line and the team who is attacking that goal line is responsible for the ball being there. Responsibility is determined by which team gave the ball the impetus...

by kneeling in the end zone, in which case the receiving team then starts its offensive drive from its own 20 yard line. A touchback also occurs when the kick goes out-of-bounds in the end zone. (Punts and turnovers in the end zone can also result in a touchback
Touchback
In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead behind or above a goal line and the team who is attacking that goal line is responsible for the ball being there. Responsibility is determined by which team gave the ball the impetus...

). A kickoff that goes out-of-bounds anywhere other than the end zone before being touched by the receiving team is a foul, and the ball will be placed within the hash marks of the yard line where it went out of bounds, or 30 yards from the kickoff spot, depending on which is more advantageous to the receiving team. Unlike with punts, once a kickoff goes 10 yards and the ball has hit the ground, it can be recovered by the kicking team. A team, especially one who is losing, can try to take advantage of this by attempting an onside kick
Onside kick
In American and Canadian football, an onside kick is a type of kick used at a kickoff or other free kick, or scrimmage kick or other kick during play, in which the ball is kicked favorably for the kicking team to avoid giving away the ball...

.

After safeties, the team that gave up the points must free kick the ball to the other team from its own 20 yard line.

Penalties




Fouls (a type of rule violation) are punished with penalties against the offending team. Most penalties result in moving the football towards the offending team's end zone. If the penalty would move the ball more than half the distance towards the offender's end zone, the penalty becomes half the distance to the goal instead of its normal value.

Most penalties result in replaying the down. Some defensive penalties give the offense an automatic first down. Conversely, some offensive penalties result in loss of a down (loss of the right to repeat the down). If a penalty gives the offensive team enough yardage to gain a first down, they get a first down, as usual. The only penalty that results in points is if a team on offense commits a certain fouls, such as holding, in its own end zone, which results in a safety.

If a foul occurs during a down (after the play has begun), the down is allowed to continue and an official throws a yellow penalty flag
Penalty flag
The penalty flag is a yellow cloth used in several field sports including American football and lacrosse by game officials to identify and sometimes mark the location of penalties or infractions that occur during regular play. It is usually wrapped around a weight, such as sand or beans so it can...

 near the spot of the foul. When the down ends, the team that did not commit the foul has the option of accepting the penalty, or declining the penalty and accepting the result of the down.

Variations



  • Limited contact
    • touch football
      Touch football (American)
      Touch football is a variant of American football in which the basic rules are similar to those of the mainstream game , but instead of tackling players to the ground, the person carrying the ball need only be touched by a member of the opposite team to end a down...

      . A play ends when a defender touches the ball carrier (sometimes with two hands).
    • flag football
      Flag football
      Flag football is a version of Canadian football or American football that is popular worldwide. The basic rules of the game are similar to those of the mainstream game , but instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier to end...

      . A play ends when a defender removes a designated token ("flag") worn by the ball carrier.
    • Wrap. A play ends when a defender wraps his arms round the ball carrier.

  • Fewer players
    • nine-man football
      Nine-man football
      Nine-man football is a type of American football played by high schools that are too small to play the usual eleven-man game. As of 2007, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota had nine man football....

    • eight-man football
      Eight-man football
      Eight-man football is a type of American football, generally played by small high schools. Rules and formations vary greatly among states and even among different organizations, but the one constant is eight players from each team on the field at one time, as opposed to eleven-man football, which...

    • six-man football
      Six-man football
      Six-man football is a variant of American football that is played with six players per team, instead of 11.-History:6-man football was developed in 1934 by Chester High School coach Stephen Epler as an alternative means for small high schools to field a football team during the Great Depression...


  • Smaller field
    The Arena Football League is a league that plays eight-man football, but also plays indoors and on a much smaller playing surface with rule changes to encourage a much more offensive game.

  • Catch and Run
    In this game, the children split into two teams and line up at opposite sides of the playing field. One side throws the ball to the other side. If the opposing team catches the ball, that player tries to run to the throwing teams touchdown without being tagged/tackled. If no one catches the ball or if the player is tagged/tackled, then that team has to throw the ball to the opposing team. This repeats until time runs out or the players decide to quit.

Players



Most football players have highly specialized roles. At the college and NFL levels, most play only offense or only defense.

Offense

  • The offensive line
    American football positions
    In American football, each team has eleven players on the field at one time. Because the rules allow unlimited substitution between plays, the types of players on the field for each team differ depending on the situation...

    (OL) consists of five players whose job is to protect the passer and clear the way for runners by blocking members of the defense. The lineman in the middle is the center. Outside the center are the guards, and outside them are the tackles. Except for the center, who snaps the ball to one of the backs, offensive linemen generally do not handle the ball.
  • The quarterback
    Quarterback
    Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

    (QB) receives the snap from the center on most plays. He then hands or tosses it to a running back, throws it to a receiver or runs with it himself. The quarterback is the leader of the offense and calls the plays that are signaled to him from the sidelines.
  • Running back
    Running back
    A running back is a gridiron football position, who is typically lined up in the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.There are usually one or two running...

    s
    (RB) line up behind or beside the QB and specialize in running with the ball. They also block, catch passes and, on rare occasions, pass the ball to others or even receive the snap. If a team has two running backs in the game, usually one will be a halfback
    Halfback (American football)
    A halfback, sometimes referred to as a tailback, is an offensive position in American football, which lines up in the backfield and generally is responsible for carrying the ball on run plays. Historically, from the 1870s through the 1950s, the halfback position was both an offensive and defensive...

    (HB) (or tailback (TB)), who is more likely to run with the ball, and the other will usually be a fullback
    Fullback (American football)
    A fullback is a position in the offensive backfield in American and Canadian football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback...

    (FB), who is more likely to block.
  • Wide receiver
    Wide receiver
    A wide receiver is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is the key player in most of the passing plays. Only players in the backfield or the ends on the line are eligible to catch a forward pass. The two players who begin play at the ends of the offensive line are eligible...

    s
    (WR) line up near the sidelines. They specialize in catching passes, though they also block for running plays or downfield after another receiver makes a catch.
  • Tight end
    Tight end
    The tight end is a position in American football on the offense. The tight end is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be...

    s
    (TE) line up next to the offensive line. They can either play like wide receivers (catch passes) or like offensive linemen (protect the QB or create spaces for runners). Sometimes an offensive lineman takes the tight end position and is referred to as a tackle eligible.


At least seven players must line up on the line of scrimmage on every offensive play. The other players may line up anywhere behind the line. The exact number of running backs, wide receivers and tight ends may differ on any given play. For example, if the team needs only one yard, it may use three tight ends, two running backs and no wide receivers. On the other hand, if it needs 20 yards, it may replace all of its running backs and tight ends with wide receivers.

Defense


In contrast to members of the offense, the rules of professional football (NFL Rulebook) and American college football (NCAA Rulebook) do not specify starting position, movement, or coverage zones for members of the defensive team, except that they must be in the defensive zone at the start of play. The positions, movements and responsibilities of all defensive players are assigned by the team by selection of certain coverages, or patterns of placement and assignment of responsibilities. The positional roles are customary. These roles have varied over the history of American football. The following are customary defensive positions used in many coverages in modern American football.
  • The defensive line
    American football positions
    In American football, each team has eleven players on the field at one time. Because the rules allow unlimited substitution between plays, the types of players on the field for each team differ depending on the situation...

    consists of three to six players who line up immediately across from the offensive line. They try to occupy the offensive linemen in order to free up the linebackers, disrupt the backfield (behind the offensive line) of the offense, and tackle the running back if he has the ball before he can gain yardage or the quarterback before he can throw or pass the ball. They are the first line of defense.
  • Behind the defensive line are the linebacker
    Linebacker
    A linebacker is a position in American football that was invented by football coach Fielding H. Yost of the University of Michigan. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen...

    s
    . They line up between the defensive line and defensive backs and may either rush the quarterback or cover potential receivers.
  • The last line of defense is known as the secondary, comprising at least three players who line up as defensive back
    Defensive back
    In American football and Canadian football, defensive backs are the players on the defensive team who take positions somewhat back from the line of scrimmage; they are distinguished from the defensive line players and linebackers, who take positions directly behind or close to the line of...

    s
    , who are either cornerback
    Cornerback
    A cornerback is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in American and Canadian football. Cornerbacks cover receivers, to defend against pass offenses and make tackles. Other members of the defensive backfield include the safeties and occasionally linebackers. The cornerback position...

    s
    or safeties. They cover the receivers and try to stop pass completions. They occasionally rush the quarterback.

Special teams


The units of players who handle kicking plays are known as special teams. Three important special-teams players are the punter, who handles punts, the placekicker
Placekicker
Placekicker, or simply kicker , is the title of the player in American and Canadian football who is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals, extra points...

or kicker, who kicks off and attempts field goals and extra points, and the long snapper
Long snapper
In American football and Canadian football, the term long snapper refers to a player who is a specialized center during punts, field goals, and extra point attempts. His job is to snap the ball as quickly and accurately as possible....

, who snaps the ball for extra points, field goals, and punts. Also included on special teams are the returners. These players return punts or kickoffs and try to get in good field position. These players can also score touchdowns.

Uniform numbering



In the NFL, ranges of uniform numbers
Uniform number (American football)
The uniform numbers in American football are unusual compared to those in any other sport. They are displayed in more locations on the uniform than in those of other sports , and on the front of the jersey, they are displayed very large, taking up almost the entire front of the jersey...

 are (usually) reserved for certain positions:
  • 1–19: Quarterbacks, punters and placekickers
  • 20–49: Running backs and defensive backs
  • 60–79: Offensive guards and tackles
  • 10–19, 80–89: Wide receivers
  • 80–89: Tight ends
  • Players who switch positions in their career can keep their number if they played their prior position for at least a year and move from a position that is eligible to receive passes to another eligible position, or if he is moving from one ineligible position to another ineligible position.


NCAA and high school rules specify only that offensive linemen must have numbers in the 50–79 range, but the NCAA "strongly recommends" that quarterbacks and running backs have numbers below 50 and wide receivers numbers above 79. This helps officials, as it means that numbers 50 to 79 are ineligible receivers
Eligible receiver
In American football and Canadian football, not all players on offense are entitled to receive a forward pass. Only an eligible pass receiver may legally catch a forward pass, and only an eligible receiver may advance beyond the neutral zone if a forward pass which crosses the neutral zone is thrown...

, or players that may not receive a forward pass (except in the rare instance when a Tackle lines up as the outermost lineman on his side of the line and the officials are notified that he will be an eligible receiver for that particular play). There are no numbering restrictions on defensive players in the NCAA, other than that a team may not have two players on the field at the same time with the same jersey number
Squad number
In team sports, the squad number, shirt number, jersey number, sweater number, uniform number or simply a number is the number worn on a player's uniform, to identify and distinguish each player from others wearing the same or similar uniforms...

.

Basic strategy


Because the game stops after every down, giving teams a chance to call a new play, strategy plays a major role in football. Each team has a playbook of dozens to hundreds of plays. Ideally, each play is a scripted, strategically sound team-coordinated endeavor. Some plays are very safe; they are likely to get only a few yards. Other plays have the potential for long gains but at a greater risk of a loss of yardage or a turnover.

Generally speaking, rushing plays are less risky than passing plays. However, there are relatively safe passing plays and risky running plays. To deceive the other team, some passing plays are designed to resemble running plays and vice versa. These are referred to as play-action passes and draws, respectively. There are many trick or gadget plays, such as when a team lines up as if it intends to punt and then tries to run or pass for a first down. Such high-risk plays are a great thrill to the fans when they work. However, they can spell disaster if the opposing team realizes the deception and acts accordingly.

The defense also plans plays in response to expectations of what the offense will do. For example, a "blitz" (using linebackers or defensive backs to charge the quarterback) is often attempted when the team on defense expects a pass. A blitz makes downfield passing more difficult but exposes the defense to big gains if the offensive line stems the rush.

Many hours of preparation and strategizing, including film review by both players and coaches, go into the days between football games. This, along with the demanding physicality of football (see below), is why teams typically play at most one game per week.

Physicality



American football is a collision sport. To stop the offense from advancing the ball, the defense must tackle the player with the ball by knocking or pulling him down. As such, defensive players must use some form of physical contact to bring the ball-carrier to the ground, within certain rules and guidelines. Tacklers cannot kick or punch the runner. They also cannot grab the face mask of the runner's helmet or lead into a tackle with their own helmet ("spearing"). Despite these and other rules regarding unnecessary roughness, most other forms of tackling are legal. Blockers and defenders trying to evade them also have wide leeway in trying to force their opponents out of the way. Quarterbacks are regularly hit by defenders coming on full speed from outside the quarterback's field of vision. This is commonly known as a blindside.

To compensate for this, players must wear special protective equipment, such as a padded plastic helmet
Football helmet
A football helmet is a protective device used primarily in American football and Canadian football. It consists of a hard plastic top with thick padding on the inside, a face mask made of one or more plastic bars, and a chinstrap. Some players add polycarbonate visors to their helmets, which are...

, shoulder pads
Shoulder pads
Shoulder pads are a piece of protective equipment used in many contact sports such as American football, Canadian football, lacrosse and hockey. Most modern shoulder pads consist of a shock absorbing foam material with a hard plastic outer covering. The pieces are usually secured by rivets or...

, hip pads and knee pad
Knee pad
Kneepads or knee pads are protective gear worn on knees to protect them against impact injury during , e.g., a fall or a strike, or to provide padding for extended kneeling.-In sports:...

s. These protective pads were introduced decades ago and have improved ever since to help minimize lasting injury
Injury
-By cause:*Traumatic injury, a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident*Other injuries from external physical causes, such as radiation injury, burn injury or frostbite*Injury from infection...

 to players. An unintended consequence
Unintended consequence
In the social sciences, unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the outcomes intended by a purposeful action. The concept has long existed but was named and popularised in the 20th century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton...

 of all the safety equipment has resulted in increasing levels of violence in the game. Players may now hurl themselves at one another at high speeds without a significant chance of injury. The injuries that do result tend to be severe and often season or career-ending and sometimes fatal. In previous years with less padding, tackling more closely resembled tackles in Rugby football
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

. Better helmets have allowed players to use their helmets as weapons. This form of tackling is particularly unwise, because of the great potential for brain or spinal injury
Spinal cord injury
A spinal cord injury refers to any injury to the spinal cord that is caused by trauma instead of disease. Depending on where the spinal cord and nerve roots are damaged, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain to paralysis to incontinence...

. All this has caused the various leagues, especially the NFL, to implement a complicated series of penalties for various types of contact. Most recently, virtually any contact with the helmet of a defensive player on the quarterback, or any contact to the quarterback's head, is now a foul. During the late 1970s, the penalty in high school football for spearing included ejection from the game.

Despite protective equipment and rule changes to emphasize safety, injuries remain very common in football. It is increasingly rare, for example, for NFL quarterbacks or running backs (who take the most direct hits) to make it through an entire season without missing some time to injury. Additionally, 28 football players died from direct football injuries in the years 2000–05 and an additional 68 died indirectly from dehydration or other examples of "non-physical" dangers, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. Concussions are common, with about 41,000 suffered every year among high school players according to the Brain Injury Association of Arizona. In 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, who played football in high school, commented on the contact of the sport: "Football is the last thing left in civilization where men can literally fling themselves bodily at one another in combat and not be at war."

Extra and optional equipment such as neck rolls, spider pads, rib protectors (referred to as "flak jackets"), and elbow pad
Elbow pad
thumb|left|200px|Rollerblader wearing elbow padsElbow pads are protective padded gear worn on the elbows to protect them against injury during a fall or a strike....

s help against injury as well, though they do not tend to be used by the majority of players due to their lack of requirement.

The danger of football, and the equipment required to reduce it, make regulation football impractical for casual play. Flag football
Flag football
Flag football is a version of Canadian football or American football that is popular worldwide. The basic rules of the game are similar to those of the mainstream game , but instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier to end...

 and touch football
Touch football (American)
Touch football is a variant of American football in which the basic rules are similar to those of the mainstream game , but instead of tackling players to the ground, the person carrying the ball need only be touched by a member of the opposite team to end a down...

 are less violent variants of the game popular among recreational players.

Nutrition and dehydration


Football players typically begin their season while the weather is still extremely warm and with the dangerous combination of warm weather and high humidity, dehydration is a great risk for the players. The players are usually required to follow a hydration schedule. It is extremely important for players to drink enough fluids because dehydration can seriously reduce athletic performance and increase the risk of heat illnesses. Most trainers and coaches make it imperative for their players to drink fluids before they are thirsty.

Brain injury


The Concussions Committee of the NFL, co-chaired by Dr. Ira Casson, has generally denied that concussions result in permanent brain injury. However, there is some research, reported in 2009, which, using phone interviews based on the National Health Interview Survey
National Health Interview Survey
The National Health Interview Survey is an annual, cross-sectional survey intended to provide nationally-representative estimates on a wide range of health status and utilization measures among the nonmilitary, noninstitutionalized population of the United States...

, showed increased incidence of diagnosis of memory loss
Memory loss
Memory loss can be partial or total and it is normal when it comes with aging. Sudden memory loss is usually a result of brain trauma and it may be permanent or temporary. When it is caused by medical conditions such as Alzheimers, the memory loss is gradual and tends to be permanent.Brain trauma...

 and dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

 among retired professional football players; chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative disease found in individuals who have been subjected to multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. A variant of the condition, dementia pugilistica, is primarily associated with boxing...

 diagnoses are increasingly common among deceased football players. Such symptoms are believed related to the effects of concussions. More rigorous research is being conducted by Dr. Casson, neurologist, for the NFL. This finding is considered significant as such injuries may potentially affect high school and college players also.

Organization in the United States


In the United States, the major forms are high school football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

, college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 and professional football
Professional football
In the United States and Canada, the term professional football includes the professional forms of American and Canadian gridiron football. In common usage, it refers to former and existing major football leagues in either country...

. Most American high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

s field football teams. In general, high school teams play only against other teams within the same state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

, but there are some exceptions like nearby schools located on opposite sides of a state line.

Most of college football in the United States is governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 (NCAA), and most colleges and universities around the country have football teams. These teams mostly play other similarly sized schools, through the NCAA's divisional system, which divides the schools into four divisions: Division I Bowl Subdivision, Division I Championship Subdivision, Division II, and Division III. Unlike the three smaller NCAA football divisions, the Division I Bowl Subdivision does not have an organized tournament to determine its national champion. Instead, teams are invited to compete in a number of post-season bowl games. In addition, the champions of six conferences in the Division I Bowl Subdivision receive automatic bids, and four other schools receive "at-large" bids, to those five bowl games under the highly lucrative Bowl Championship Series
Bowl Championship Series
The Bowl Championship Series is a selection system that creates five bowl match-ups involving ten of the top ranked teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision , including an opportunity for the top two to compete in the BCS National Championship Game.The BCS relies on a combination of...

 to help determine the national champion.

The highest level major professional league in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 is the 32-team National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 (NFL). Another professional league, the 5-team United Football League, also currently operates. Several semi-professional, women's semi-professional football, and indoor football leagues are also played across the country.

Calendar



Traditionally, football is an autumn sport. A season typically begins in mid-to-late August and runs through December, into January. The NFL playoffs run further through January, and the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 is often played in the first week of February. As such, the sport is played in a wide range of weather conditions, from the heat and humidity of late summer, to the cold winds and snow in mid-winter. Unlike rainouts in baseball, play is only generally postponed or canceled for conditions that would pose a hazard to the safety of the fans and personnel involved, such as blizzard
Blizzard
A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong winds. By definition, the difference between blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have winds in excess of with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 400 meters or ¼ mile or...

s, hurricanes and severe thunderstorm
Thunderstorm
A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm, a lightning storm, thundershower or simply a storm is a form of weather characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere known as thunder. The meteorologically assigned cloud type associated with the...

s.

The NFL Draft
NFL Draft
The National Football League Draft is an annual event in which the National Football League teams select eligible college football players and it is their most common source of player recruitment. The basic design of the draft is each team is given a position in the drafting order in reverse order...

 is usually held in April, in which eligible college football players are selected by NFL teams, the order of selection determined by the teams' final regular season records.

It is a long-standing tradition in the United States (though not universally observed) that high school football games are played on Friday night, college games on Saturday, and professional games on Sunday.

In the 1970s, the NFL began to schedule one game on Monday nights
Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football is a live broadcast of the National Football League on ESPN. From to it aired on ABC. Monday Night Football was, along with Hallmark Hall of Fame, and the Walt Disney anthology television series, one of the longest running prime time commercial network television series...

. Beginning in 2006, the NFL began scheduling games on Thursday nights in mid-November, aired on the NFL Network
NFL Network
NFL Network is an American television specialty channel owned and operated by the National Football League . It was launched November 4, 2003, only eight months after the league's 32 team owners voted unanimously to approve its formation...

; NFL games have also been scheduled on Saturday nights toward the end of the season.

Nationally televised Thursday-night college games have become a weekly fixture on ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

, and most nights of the week feature at least one college game, though most games are still played on the traditional Saturday.

Certain fall and winter holiday
Holiday
A Holiday is a day designated as having special significance for which individuals, a government, or a religious group have deemed that observance is warranted. It is generally an official or unofficial observance of religious, national, or cultural significance, often accompanied by celebrations...

s—such as the NFL's Thanksgiving Classic
Thanksgiving Classic
The National Football League's Thanksgiving Classic is a series of games played during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. It has been a regular occurrence since the league's inception in 1920. Since 2006, three games are played every Thanksgiving...

 and numerous New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

 college bowl game
Bowl game
In North America, a bowl game is commonly considered to refer to one of a number of post-season college football games. Prior to 2002, bowl game statistics were not included in players' career totals and the games were mostly considered to be exhibition games involving a payout to participating...

s—have traditional football games associated with them.

Despite this, there are a few professional leagues that have played in the spring, mainly to avoid competition with the established leagues. Examples include the now defunct XFL
XFL
The XFL was a professional American football league that played for one season in 2001. The league was founded by Vince McMahon, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of WWE...

, the United States Football League
United States Football League
The United States Football League was an American football league which was in active operation from 1983 to 1987. It played a spring/summer schedule in its first three seasons and a traditional autumn/winter schedule was set to commence before league operations ceased.The USFL was conceived in...

, and the proposed All American Football League
All American Football League
The All American Football League was a proposed professional American football league. The league, which was to combine a professional pay structure with the requirement that all players be college graduates, had originally been scheduled to start in the spring of 2007, but later postponed its...

. Indoor football is played primarily in spring for this same reason.

At most levels of competition, college football teams hold several weeks of practices in the spring. These practices typically end with an intramural scrimmage open to the public. In certain areas, high school football teams also hold spring practices.

Outside the United States


Outside the United States, the sport is referred to as "American football" (or a translation thereof) to differentiate it from other football
Football
Football may refer to one of a number of team sports which all involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score a goal. The most popular of these sports worldwide is association football, more commonly known as just "football" or "soccer"...

 codes such as association football (soccer), Rugby League
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

, Rugby Union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

, Australian rules football
Australian rules football
Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, also called football, Aussie rules or footy is a sport played between two teams of 22 players on either...

 and Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

. In Australia and New Zealand the game is also known as gridiron football
Gridiron football
Gridiron football , sometimes known as North American football, is an umbrella term for related codes of football primarily played in the United States and Canada. The predominant forms of gridiron football are American football and Canadian football...

, or more commonly as gridiron, although in the United States the term gridiron refers only to the playing field itself. The term gridiron has also been used in the UK to describe the game. In much of the world, the term football
Football (word)
The English language word football may mean any one of several team sports , depending on the national or regional origin and location of the person using the word....

 is unambiguous and refers to association football (known commonly as 'soccer' in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

).

Exportation by the established U.S. leagues and organizations


In 1977, the semi-pro football teams Newton Nite Hawks
Newton Nite Hawks
The Newton Nite Hawks were a semi-pro American football team that played in Newton, Iowa from 1974-1978. They were members of the Chicagoland Football League and Northern States Football League...

 and Chicago Lions completed a five-game tour in Europe. These were the first professional or semi-professional American football teams to play organized games on the European continent. Games were played in Versailles, France; Lille, France; Landstuhl, Germany; Gratz Austria; and Vienna, Austria.

In 1985, Bethany College
Bethany College (Kansas)
Bethany College is a small liberal arts college located in Lindsborg, Kansas and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America . The college's mission is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead loves of faith, learning and service...

 head coach and future College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

 member Ted Kessinger
Ted Kessinger
Dr. Ted Kessinger is a former American football coach. He served as the head football coach at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas from 1976 to 2003, compiling a record of 219–57–1 for a winning percentage of...

 brought the first American football team to play in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The Bethany "Terrible Swedes" defeated the Swedish all-star team 72–7 in Stockholm Olympic Stadium.

The NFL has attempted to introduce the game to other nations and operated a developmental league, NFL Europa (also known as the World League of American Football and NFL Europe) with teams in various European cities, but this league was closed down following the 2007 season. The professional Canadian Football League
Canadian Football League
The Canadian Football League or CFL is a professional sports league located in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football, a form of gridiron football closely related to American football....

 and collegiate Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada, comprising the majority of degree granting universities in the country. Its equivalent body for organized sports at colleges in Canada is The Canadian Colleges Athletic Association...

 play under the slightly different Canadian rules
Canadian football
Canadian football is a form of gridiron football played exclusively in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play long and wide attempting to advance a pointed prolate spheroid ball into the opposing team's scoring area...

.

Major American leagues have also held some regular season games outside of the United States. On October 2, 2005, the Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. They are currently members of the Western Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 and San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and...

 played the first regular season NFL game outside of the United States, in Mexico City's Estadio Azteca
Estadio Azteca
Estadio Azteca is a stadium in Santa Ursula, Mexico City, Mexico. It is the official home stadium of the Mexico national football team and the Mexican team Club América.The stadium was the venue for football soccer in the 1968 Summer Olympics....

, From 2007, the NFL has played or has plans to play at least one regular season game outside of the United States during each season. The NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 will also play games outside of the U.S. In 2012, The United States Naval Academy will play the University of Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.

Leagues by country



 — Gridiron Australia
Gridiron Australia
Gridiron Australia is the governing body of American football in Australia. It is an approved sporting association under federal government regulations and is a member of the International Federation of American Football . The organisation was formed in 1996.Gridiron Australia oversees the...

 is the overall governing body for American football in Australia. The country is actually divided into state-level leagues instead of one national-level league by itself: ACT Gridiron
ACT Gridiron
ACT Gridiron or ACTG is the governing body for gridiron in the Australian Capital Territory, Australia. ACT Gridiron currently has six teams. The season culminates with the grand final, known as the Capital Bowl....

 (Australian Capital Territory
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory, often abbreviated ACT, is the capital territory of the Commonwealth of Australia and is the smallest self-governing internal territory...

), Gridiron NSW
Gridiron NSW
Gridiron NSW is the governing body for gridiron in the state of New South Wales, Australia....

 (New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

), Gridiron Queensland
Gridiron Queensland
Gridiron Queensland is the governing body for gridiron in the state of Queensland, Australia. There are currently eight Division One teams registered in the league.Finalists of the league participate in the Sun Bowl....

 (Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

), South Australian Gridiron Association
South Australian Gridiron Association
The Gridiron Association of South Australia , Gridiron SA, or GASA is the governing body for gridiron in the state of South Australia, Australia. There are currently five Division One teams registered in the league.The Association has had 3 main venues they have used for their games...

 (South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

), Gridiron Victoria
Gridiron Victoria
Gridiron Victoria is the governing body for American Football in the State of Victoria, Australia. Formed in 1997, Gridiron Victoria was an amalgamation of the two existing governing bodies of the time: the Victoria Gridiron Football League and the Gridiron Association of Victoria.-Clubs:* Bay...

 (Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

), and Gridiron West
Gridiron West
Gridiron West is the governing body for gridiron in the state of Western Australia, Australia. There are currently eight Division One Senior teams and five under 18 Junior teams registered in the league.-Members:*Claremont Jets...

 (Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

).
 — The Belgian Football League
Belgian Football League
The Belgian american Football League is the professional sports league for American football in Belgium. The league currently consists of fourteen teams from Belgian cities and regions and one team from Luxembourg. The league is divided into two conferences — the Flemish american Football League ...

 fields 16 teams. The finalists from the playoffs determine the champion during the Belgian Bowl
Belgian Bowl
In American football, the Belgian Bowl is the championship game of the Belgian Football League . At the end of each regular season, three teams from each conference play in the BFL playoffs, a six-team single-elimination tournament that culminates with the Belgian Bowl.-History:-Statistics:* in...

.
 — The Brazilian American Football League
Liga Brasileira de Futebol Americano
The Liga Brasileira de Futebol Americano is the highest level of American Football in Brazil. It was created by 8 teams which played the Torneio Touchdown ....

 has 14 teams partitioned into north and south conferences.
 — The Vaahteraliiga
Vaahteraliiga
The Vaahteraliiga is the highest level of American football in Finland played under American Football Association of Finland. The winner of the Vaahteraliiga is the Finnish champion. The Vaahteraliiga season is played in summer, with a schedule usually from May to September.The first season of the...

 or the Maple League has eight teams. The league's name comes from the name of the championship trophy Vaahteramalja ("Maple Bowl"), which was donated to the newly formed association by the embassy of Canada in Finland.
 — The German Football League
German Football League
The German Football League is the elite league for American football in Germany. Playing rules are based on those of the American NCAA....

 has 12 teams partitioned into north and south conferences. The finalists from the playoffs determine the German champion during the German Bowl
German Bowl
The German Bowl is the annual national championship game in the sport of American football in Germany. It is contested by the two best teams of the German Football League....

.
 — 18 registered teams participate in the MAFL's two-division league structure. The sport has grown significantly since 2004 and with some top Division I teams participating in the CEFL
Central European Football League
The Central European Football League is a regional American football league which, in season 2012, includes teams from Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia...

.
 — The Elite Football League of India
Elite Football League of India
The Elite Football League of India is a proposed men's professional American football league in India. When play begins in late 2012, there will be ten teams, located in various cities across India...

 (EFLI) is a proposed professional league in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. When play begins in late 2012, there will be eight teams, representing various cities across India with populations of one million or more. The ELFI will be India's first professional
Professional sports
Professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, are sports in which athletes receive payment for their performance. Professional athleticism has come to the fore through a combination of developments. Mass media and increased leisure have brought larger audiences, so that sports organizations...

 American football league, and its launch is backed by the Government of India
Government of India
The Government of India, officially known as the Union Government, and also known as the Central Government, was established by the Constitution of India, and is the governing authority of the union of 28 states and seven union territories, collectively called the Republic of India...

 and the Sports Authority of India
Sports Authority of India
The Sports Authority of India is a body set up by the Government of India. It was created in 1984 to help promote sport throughout the country. Presently, it has seven regional centres at Bangalore, Gandhinagar, Kolkata, Sonepat, Delhi, Mumbai and Imphal and two sub-centres at Guwahati and...

. All of the first season's games will be held in Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex
Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex
Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi, Pune is an Indian sports complex. This complex is situated in Balewadi, Pune, about 14–15 km far from Pune downtown and 4–5 km from Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park, Hinjewadi, Pune...

.
 — The Irish American Football League
Irish American Football League
The Irish American Football League is a fully kitted American football league in Ireland. Founded in 1984, it consists of 14 teams, with 2 having joined the league in 2010. The league generally runs from March through to August, ending with two teams competing for the Shamrock Bowl...

 consists of 14 teams. Its championship game is the Shamrock Bowl
Shamrock Bowl
The ‘’’Shamrock Bowl’’’ is the championship game of the Irish American Football League , the highest level of professional American football in Ireland, culminating a season that begins in March of the current calendar season. The Shamrock Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather than...

.
 — Games are governed by the Israeli Football League
Israeli Football League
The Israel Football League was founded in the Summer of 2005 by a group of Israelis, led by Mr. Ofri Becker, who wanted to play tackle American football. The first season, played without pads or an official governing body, began in the Fall of 2005...

.
 — The Italian Football League
Italian Football League
Italian Football League is an American football league in Italy.-History:It was founded in 2008, taking over previous league's significance...

 was founded in 2008, taking over previous league (National Football League Italy). It has 9 teams for the 2010 season.
 — The X-League
X-League
The X-League is a professional American football league in Japan. It was founded in 1971 as the Japan American Football League. It changed its name to the X-league in 1997. There are four divisions between which there is promotion and relegation. Teams in the four-tier league are split into...

 is a professional league with 60 teams in four divisions, using promotion and relegation
Promotion and relegation
In many sports leagues around the world, promotion and relegation is a process that takes place at the end of each season. Through it, teams are transferred between divisions based on their performance that season...

. After the post-season playoffs, the X-League champion is determined in the Japan X Bowl. There are also over 200 universities fielding teams, with the national collegiate championship determined by the Koshien Bowl
Koshien Bowl
The Koshien Bowl is the annual Japanese American college football national championship game, usually played in December at Koshien Stadium.From the 2009 season until 2010 season, the game is held as the final game of Japan University American Football Championship...

. The professional and collegiate champions then face each other in the Rice Bowl
Rice Bowl
The Rice Bowl is an annual American Football national championship game held in Japan every January 3rd that pits the Japanese college champion and the champion of the corporate X-League. The game can draw over 60,000 spectators.- Champions :...

 to determine the national champion.
 — The ONEFA
Mexican College Football
The Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Futbol Americano , usually known by the acronym ONEFA, is the major college football league in Mexico....

 is a college league with 26 teams in 3 conferences.
 — American Football Wellington
American Football Wellington
American Football Wellington, abbreviated AFW, is the governing body for American Football in Wellington, New Zealand. Formally known as the American Football Southern Conference , it was officially established in 1996 to govern the sport of American football in the Wellington and greater lower...

 comprises five teams located in the Wellington
Wellington
Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

 area.
 — A rising number of teams (11 in 2010) compete in a two division league structure (division I which determines a national champion by a postseason playoff, and division 2 where newer and smaller teams are allowed to mature). Two teams (Oslo Vikings
Oslo Vikings
Oslo Vikings is the name of an American football club located in Oslo, Norway, that competes in the Norway American Football Federation and the European Federation of American Football tournaments....

 and Eidsvoll 1814s
Eidsvoll 1814s
The Eidsvoll 1814s are an American football team based in Eidsvoll, Norway. They are currently members of the Norway American Football Federation...

) regularly compete in either the European Football League
European Football League
The European Football League is a European Cup style tournament for European American Football teams affiliated to EFAF...

 or the EFAF Cup
EFAF Cup
The EFAF Cup is an international competition for European American Football clubs. The EFAF Cup is the second highest level of club competition in the European Federation of American Football , behind the European Football League ,.- EFAF Cup :...

. Eidsvoll was the runner-up in EFAF Cup 2006.
 — Games are governed by the Polish American Football League
Polish American Football League
The Polish American Football League or shortly PLFA is a structured system for the american football competitions in Poland founded in 2006 by Polish federation PZFA. Since 2008 season, PLFA is divided into two leagues between which there is promotion and relegation...

.
 — Teams in the Nacionalna Liga Srbije compete in the Serbian Bowl.
 — The LNFA
LNFA
Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano is the name of the top American football league which operates in Spain. It was founded in 1995 after the merge of several previous Spanish competitions....

 was founded in 1995, and currently consists of 15 clubs.
 — 70 amateur teams play in the BAFA Community Leagues
BAFA Community Leagues
The BAFA National Leagues are the primary American football competition in England, Scotland and Wales. They were formed by the British American Football Association in 2010 to coordinate contact football and flag football across all age ranges...

 (BAFACL) across a number of age ranges. The senior (adult) league has three levels: the Premiership, comprising six teams; Division 1, comprising 18 teams split across three regional conferences; and Division 2, comprising 23 teams split across four regional conferences. While the lower level teams have their own championship games during BritBowl Weekend, only Premier Division teams face each other in the BritBowl
BritBowl
BritBowl is the championship game of the British American Football Association Community Leagues, and formerly the British American Football League in the United Kingdom. It is the most prestigious of the league's three bowl games that constitute BritBowl Weekend. Only teams in the Premier...

 which is held in Worcester
Worcester
The City of Worcester, commonly known as Worcester, , is a city and county town of Worcestershire in the West Midlands of England. Worcester is situated some southwest of Birmingham and north of Gloucester, and has an approximate population of 94,000 people. The River Severn runs through the...

's Sixways Stadium
Sixways Stadium
Sixways Stadium is a stadium in Worcester, England. It is currently used mostly for rugby union matches and is the home stadium of Worcester Rugby Football Club. The stadium is able to hold 12,068. It opened in 1975 and is located off junction 6 of the M5 motorway, hence the name Sixways.An...

. Unlike the NFL, the BAFACL season is played through the summer (April to September), with the British university season
British Universities American Football League
-2009-10 Challenge Trophy results:-2010 league MVPs:League MVP: David Saul Offensive MVP: Tristan Varney Defensive MVP: Ed Butcher...

 spanning the autumn and winter.

The IFAF and the American Football World Cup


The International Federation of American Football
International Federation of American Football
International Federation of American Football is the international governing body of American football associations. Its headquarters are in La Courneuve, France, and its current president is Tommy Wiking...

 (IFAF) is the de facto governing body for American football, with 45 member associations from North and South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. The organization is headquartered in La Courneuve
La Courneuve
La Courneuve is a commune in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris.-History:The history of La Courneuve begins as the rest of the region with the invasion of European tribes and the eventual conquering of the area by the Romans. During the Middle Ages,...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Although the IFAF has relatively little standing in the U.S. compared to the NFL, NCAA, and the other established aforementioned bodies, these same organizations also give support to USA Football
USA Football
USA Football is the national governing body of American football at the youth and amateur levels. An independent non-profit based in Indianapolis, USA Football, which hosts more than 100 training events annually, offers education programs for coaches and game officials as well as skill development...

, the designated U.S. representative to the IFAF.

The IFAF also oversees the American Football World Cup, which is held every four years. Japan won the first two World Cups, held in 1999 and 2003. Team USA, which had not participated in the previous World Cups, won the title in 2007 and 2011.

A long term goal of the IFAF is for American football to be accepted by the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

 as an Olympic sport
Olympic sports
Olympic sports, as defined by the International Olympic Committee, are all the sports contested in the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The Summer Olympics, as of 2012, will include 26 sports, with two additionall sports due to be added in 2016...

. The only time that the sport was played was at the 1932 Summer Olympics
American football at the 1932 Summer Olympics
American football was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. On the evening of August 8, 1932, seniors from three Western universities were matched against those from the East Coast's "Big Three" . In front of 60,000 spectators at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, but as a demonstration sport
Demonstration sport
A demonstration sport is a sport which is played to promote itself, most commonly during the Olympic Games, but also at other sporting events.Demonstration sports were officially introduced in 1912 Summer Olympics, when Sweden decided to include glima, traditional Icelandic wrestling, in the...

.

See also



  • American football on Thanksgiving
  • Comparison of American and Canadian football
  • Comparison of American football and rugby league
    Comparison of American football and rugby league
    A comparison of American football and rugby league football can be made because of their shared origins, resulting in similarities and shared concepts in terms of scoring and advancing the ball. Aside from Canadian football, rugby league is the sport most similar to American football...

  • Fantasy football (American)
    Fantasy football (American)
    Fantasy football is an interactive, virtual competition in which people manage professional football players versus one another and that allows people to act as general managers of a pseudo-football team. The players that an individual is able to manage are professional American Football players...

  • Glossary of American football
    Glossary of American football
    The following terms are used in American football and Canadian football, but see also the glossary of Canadian football.-0-9: A formation of the 4-3 defense featuring several dramatic shifts of personnel...

  • Lists of American football players
  • List of American football stadiums by capacity
  • List of American football teams in Belgium
  • List of American football teams in Germany

  • List of American football teams in the Netherlands
  • List of defunct sports leagues
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame
    Pro Football Hall of Fame
    The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

  • Sports nutrition
    Sports nutrition
    Sports nutrition is the study and practice of nutrition and diet as it relates to athletic performance. It is concerned with the type and quantity of fluid and food taken by an athlete, and deals with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, supplements and organic substances such as carbohydrates,...

  • Sprint Football
    Sprint football
    Sprint football, formerly called lightweight football, is a varsity sport played by United States colleges and universities, under rules similar to American football. The sport is currently governed by the Collegiate Sprint Football League....

  • Steroid use in American football
    Steroid use in American football
    The use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport of American football has been an ongoing issue since the late 1980s, especially in the National Football League . The NFL began to test players for steroid use during the 1987 season, and started to issue suspensions to players during the 1989...

  • Strat-O-Matic Football
    Strat-O-Matic Football
    Strat-O-Matic Pro Football is a tabletop board game that was first produced by the Strat-O-Matic game company in 1968. The game is a statistically-based sports game that simulates the play of American football. Each player's statistics are gathered, analyzed, and then converted into numerical...

  • Street football (American)
    Street football (American)
    Street football, also known as backyard football or sandlot football, is a simplified variant of American football primarily played informally by youth...



Further reading

  • Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

    magazine dated December 4, 2005; "Football America", a series of articles attesting to the pervasive popularity of American football in the United States at all levels.

External links