Stupid Questions #10: Why is it Called FOOTball?

Today’s question comes from my son, who is quite literal and finds misnomers bothersome. He’s our own personal Sheldon Cooper.
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I’ve mentioned before that football is a derivative game of rugby. More specifically, the “ancient” sport was called Scottish Rugby Football. Archaic versions of the game are recorded as early as the 1600’s, but popularity really took hold in the UK, the mid-1800’s.

In that game, points were scored by kicking the ball (with the foot) to a goal at the end of the field. One could also run the ball to the goal, for points. Kicking could also be used for short and long passes, and to clear the ball from defenders.

Over time the game evolved. This really is no surprise – the game still changes with new rules, new equipment, and the high pressured increase of skill levels of athletes.

While that original game was a bit Wild West, with very few rules and multiple ways to score, it was too difficult to regulate and organize. Instead, it mutated into three different sports: rugby, football (soccer), and American (sometimes called “gridiron”) football.

Rugby retained a lot of the original concepts: a scrum, minimal protections, and tackles, kicking, and penalty shots.

Football (or for clarity, soccer), most notably changed in its disallowance of hands. Only the defender guarding the goal (the goal keeper, “goalie”, or “keeper”) could use hands. This changed the passing game, as every move became feet-only.

American football saw big changes, too. With the advent of down and distance rules (10 yards at a time, with four downs to get there), the game moved from chaotic efforts to the goal, to strategic, play by play action. The other major change was the forward pass. By passing the ball forward (rather than behind or laterally), the game separated forever from rugby. Later, rules were established determining when and where a forward pass can occur, and to whom.

This passing game made football look the way you might think of it today: very little kicking at all. Really, kick off, punts, and field goals are about it. The bulk of the game is now pass and run plays, with the most points being awarded to touchdowns.

So the FOOT in football is really a harkening to its history.

Hugs and loves!

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One response to “Stupid Questions #10: Why is it Called FOOTball?

  1. Pingback: Master Post: Stupid Questions | therookiegirlblog·

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