The American football games are known to be the most popular game in the United States of America. It is referred to as the ‘American football’ because it is called soccer in other parts of the world. But, it is simply called ‘football’ in America. The National Football League (NFL) has the highest football viewers than any other football league in the whole world.
No single governing body is formed at the national level for this sports both in the United states and nor is there one at the continental level in North America. However, there is one governing body that is saddled with the responsibility of organization and execution of tournaments of the sport. The governing body is the International Federation of American Football (IFAF). The sport plays in leagues that fit its status as the most popular sport in the world. The leagues are in different sizes, quality, and age and it is played in every area of the United States. Initially, the game was known to be played by only men and boys exclusively. But, in recent years, novice players and semi-professional women’s leagues have joined in playing. The rules of the game do not prohibit women and girls to play in men’s team. The condition is that they must be able to match strength for strength. There is no mercy in the football game so any woman or girl looking to join the men must be ready to act like a man. A team or academy of football players is referred to as a football program.
It have rules governing them. Summarily, the rules are as follows:
To start the game:
Coin is tossed; winner chooses first and the other team choose the only one remaining.
Kick offs are done at the beginning of the match and at the beginning of the second half of the game and is played by the defense to the offense.
To Play a Game:
The team that holds the ball is the offense and, if they have the ball, they move it forward to the end zone or at least 10 yards and they have four chances to do this. If they fail, the ball will be given to the defense team. If they succeed, they score goal points.
Should the offense be unable to move the ball the required 10 yards, the ball must be turned to the rival team.
If it happens that the offense team has used up all its four downs and failed to cover the 10 yards as required, the defense becomes the offense.
The defense-turn-offense also has four downs to kick the ball to the rival team who failed to make the 10 yards required. Their opponent is given a chance to enter their end zone if they give the ball to them at or close to their own end zone instead of the opponent’s.
After the fourth down, if the offense still fails to meet the required 10 yard, it has two options: make up the yards or kick the ball.
The whole game last 1 hour, without the overtime. With the overtime, it can be more than 3 hours. The standard one hour is divided into four – quarters. Each quarter is 15 minutes with a two-minute break between the quarters and 15-minute break between the halves.
There is no point on the pitch where a field goal cannot be scored. The goal point can be scored at any point and at any time. If the kick is successful, three points goes to the team who made the kick.
The ball must go between the vertically upright posts or it would not be considered successful.
IFAF World Championship Competitions
IFAF world championship competitions in American football games is also referred to as the IFAF World Cup. It is an international competition and it is held consistently at a four-year interval. Teams that participate come from different member countries of the body. This means that each country is duly represented at the tournament. There are 71 member countries in all each having their own American team. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) is in charge of the running of the competition. The most recent match was held in 2015 where USA won the trophy. The United States did not participate in any tournament held before 2007. Before the 2015 win, the US had previously won on two different occasions: first in the year 2007 and then in the 2011. Before US participated, the country who had been taking the crown was Japan who won both 1999 and 2003 tournament championships. The championship competition is usually held in different countries. For instance, in 1999 it was held in Italy; in 2003, it was held in Germany; in 2007 it was held in Kawasaki, Japan; in 2011, it was held in Austria. Something that hadn’t happened since the game started happened in 2015. The game was already slated to hold in Stockholm, Sweden but it had to be canceled by the local organizers because there was no one to sponsor the game. So, the tournament for 2015 ended up being held in Canton, Ohio, United states where the home team, the US team, won the championship.
The reason for this is because American football is more prevalent in the United States than in any other country in the world. Even the three tournaments that the US did partake in was done with criteria that was thoroughly restrictive. The criteria cause a lot of teams in America to be rendered ineligible to play with and for the team. However, regardless of the strict rules and criteria, the United States still won those championships.
Since the conception of the tournament, the number of teams that play in the tournament has been different. In 1999 and also in 2007, 6 teams played in the tournament. But, in 2003, only four teams played. In 2015, 7 teams also played. However, in 2011, a whopping 8 teams played in the tournament. In the 2019 game, the tournament is expected to consist of 12 teams. The teams will be grouped into four, each group will consist of three teams. The three teams in each group will play each other, whoever wins will then move on to the second stage, and then on to placements and medal games. The game starts with a round-robin tournament which is held between the groups. In this tournament, each team plays against each other just once. But, unlike tournament after the game, the teams with the highest points and the best record from each of the member nation then play against each other in a gold-medal game. The second placed team, plays for the bronze medal. While the third placed teams play the 5th placed game, the fourth placed teams play in the 7th placed game. By this, each team plays four games.
Football Games at the Professional Level
In the United States, the body that governs American football is the USA Football. At present, In the United States, The National Football League, NFL’s 32-team body is the only borderline major professional American football league. Over several decades that have passed, there have been countless failed attempts to create another major league or, at least, a high level professional league. There hasn’t been any operation done by the NFL to develop minor leagues since the NFL Europe league packed up in 2007 came about. Once, the Spring Football League was formed but it collapsed in year 2000 and, since then, there hasn’t been any minor American football league whether independent or affiliate.
Despite this, several professional and semi-professional indoor leagues have been successfully created. They played in arenas that were basketball-sized. The oldest professional league is the Arena Football League launched in the year 1987. It used to be a national league but, in the middle of 2010, the league started bagging contracts that caused its team to remain in the northeastern zone. Many other indoor leagues are also regional. Indoor football leagues have different rules and the rules allow the game to be played on less big pitch.
Then there is the Canadian Football League that operates on a professional level although under an old ruling system. The Canadian football league is different from the American game in a number of ways but, to a casual American football commentator, it is also football. The Canadian Football League (CFL) makes roasters for its teams such that players born and raised in Canada play at home while others focus on foreign matches.
Football Games at the College and University Level
Aside from the American football itself being popular in America, the college football is also known to be particularly popular in North America. Majority of college football games in the US are overseen by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a cartel body saddled with the responsibility of regulating students from 1,268 North American college institutions and conferences. It is the most popular athletic body in colleges. There are other organizations who are much smaller like the body for community colleges, National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the California association that is equivalent to the NJCAA, California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).
A lot of institutions – colleges and universities – have football teams. Apart from this, majority of them are known to have standard and dedicated football stadiums. The football teams particularly play for schools that are similar to them in size. The competitions are done through the NCAA’s sectional system. The NCAA sectional system groups collegiate sports in four separate groups. The teams are: I-FBS, I-FCS, II and III. There’s always a crowd at football games however the largest collegiate teams are known to fill stadiums that are larger than 75,000. There are 8 college football stadiums in the United States and each is said to have the capacity of sitting over 100,000 fans and tickets sell out. Football game ritual usually includes marching bands, cheerleaders, homecoming, and various forms of parties. This ritual is seen as an important contribution to America’s culture. The major source of income for schools, both public and private, in the United States is Football. More advanced college footballers are given the opportunity lf applying for the NFL and, if they are successful, they get drafted. If they get drafted, they can start their careers as a world-known football player once they are done with college.
Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision
The FBS and FCS, the only two sections of Division that exist and only in football. They were initially referred to as just ‘Divisions I-A and I-AA’ respectively. This Championship Subdivision are made up of majorly schools that are smaller than the FBS but much larger than D-II. The championship subdivision has a playoff system that is similar in program to that of II and III. On the other hand, the Bowl Subdivision only has very limited and unofficial playoff of just four teams historically known to organize bowl games and division championships.
The Bowl Subdivision is unofficially further subdivided into two: Power Five conferences also known as the major conferences, and the Group of Five locally known as mid-majors. Major conferences have an edge over the mid-majors in that only its teams are granted eligibility of competing for national championships where they get to receive recognizable awards in opinion polling. The mid-majors had no practical chance of appearing in any major bowls until the BCS National Championship Game was added.
Football Games in High School
Majority of American high schools have teams of footballers which they field. Football at this level is also popular and most recognized schools are known to fill stadiums that have the capacity of accommodating over 10,000 fans. The stadiums can afford playing surfaces though artificial. The teams in high school normally play against only teams that are from their state – that is, rival teams in high school football usually are from the same state. However, some private Christian high schools still get to play for national championships.
This opportunity is gotten through bodies like the FCAA (Federated Christian Athletic Association). In most states, the public high school football teams and games are overseen by the NFHS, the National Federation of State High School Associations. Rural schools, on the other hand, that do not have a student body capable of supporting a full football team, the NFHS helps out by sanctioning a nine-man football team which happens to be the most popular in the upper Midwest, a six-man football used mostly in Texas and known, once upon a time, to be very popular with little rival, and an eight-man football team known to be the most common reduced-man team format in majority of states.
Football Games for Adult Amateur and Semi-Pros
Semi-pro football games, also referred to as adult amateur football games, is another level in the American football games. It is generally referred to as the working man’s football. This implies that the players in this category have normal jobs and, with their jobs, still play football. The weekends are the only times they get to play. Although they are not paid football players, the games are still run in professionally. It is literally against the rules in most leagues to pay players to play. A combination of NFA and NCAA rules is the characteristic of the league’s game rules.
In the United States alone, there are a number of different leagues that play the adult amateur football game. They include:
The North American Football League (NAFL) – an adult-amateur American football league whose teams are mainly from the Eastern, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the United States. Most of the time, they play regionally and in the regular season so they don’t have to travel too much. The winners of the regional game play meets each other for the league championship in the playoffs.
The New England Football League (NEFL) – this league has more than 30 teams. Each of six states in New England has at least one representative team. The league has skill levels and there are three of them. A – more of play of recreation; AA – in between A and AAA; and AAA – the most competitive.
The Eastern Football League (EFL) – this league is located and based in New England, like the NEFL. However, some of the time, teams from New York do come around for a competition. It is one of the oldest semi-pro leagues in the country with its inception back in the year 1961.
The Mid Continental Football League (MCFL) – not as old as the EFL but it has also been a while since they play started. Its play technically began in the year 1991 and as the 1990s progressed, it became larger and expanded through most of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The league was then split apart and compressed to be just a four-state league in the Midwestern area. The league’s branch in Upstate New York, the Watertown Red and Black, is known to be the oldest surviving professional football club located right there in the United States of America. It was founded in the year 1896.
The Pacific Northwest Football League (PNFL) – this league started its play in 2016 being one of the newest leagues. Although it started in 2016, the league wasted no time in developing such that as at now, it already has 6 teams. 4 teams are located in Portland, Oregon and 2 teams are located in Vancouver, Washington.
The women’s semi-professional football game play is not left out either considering the fact that it also has many leagues in support. Currently, two major leagues govern the women’s semi-professional football play. These are: The Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL), and the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) which began its play in the year 2009. The WFA consists of teams from spill-over leagues which were spilled over to the WFA because the leagues they initially belonged to had just been dissolved. The two leagues dissolved are: the National Women’s Football Association (NWFA) and Women’s Professional Football League (WPFL).
The United States’ Professional American Football Team
IFAF holds their World Championships every four years and the USA Football league usually assembles a national football team to take part in the championship competition. Consequently, due to the concerns as to the incompatibility and imbalance of the competitions, the USA Football leagues chose not to present teams to represent the States in the first two events of the IFAF World Championships – competitions in 1999 and in 2003. Eventually, in 2007, they produced teams but they made sure they were majorly amateur players who were fresh college graduates. The team was a mixture of both small and large universities and colleges – higher institutions. By the time 2011 came around, the squad’s criteria and conditions were a lot less stringent such that some professional players were qualified. Most of the professional players were unemployed, minor, and not-so-strong league players. NFL and NCAA champions were not allowed to take part in the competition. Despite this, the team still won both 2007 and 2011 competitions and were crowned winners in both championship competitions. A U-19 team consisting high school amateur football players who had taken part in junior championships that were held in 2009, 2012, 2014, and in 2016 were also drafted by the IFAF. Regardless of their experience in professional football, which is almost no experience at all, the national U-19 drafted by IFAF to participate in the championship won in two out of the four games – i.e. 2009 and 2014. In 2012, Canada won the crown.
American Football at the Summer Olympics
In 1904 and 1932, the American football was one of the sports featured in the Summer Olympic Games demonstration programme. In 1904, the collegiate football game featured. It was a band of college teams playing against each other being part of the regular seasons of football games. However, since that time, the American football hasn’t featured in the Summer Olympics.