Football Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Football is one of the most popular sports in America! In this lesson, learn about the history of football and how this game grew from other sports, and find out some interesting facts about football.

Football's Beginnings

In early fall, people start tuning their televisions to a very popular sport: football! In many countries, football is what we know as soccer. But in America, football is a very different sport. College and professional games are big events, and many kids around the country play football as well. You know what the sport is like now, but have you ever wondered how it got started? Let's find out where football came from and its history in America.

Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks played a game called harpaston. This game was similar to what football is now. Players would try to get a ball across a goal line, and the opposing team would do anything it could to stop that from happening. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

From this original Greek version, similar sports, like rugby, were created. Rugby was popular in England in the 19th century, and it still is today.

Football in America

Many people believe that the first official football game in America happened in 1869. Rutgers University challenged Princeton University to a match, although if you were watching that game now, you would notice the rules were very different from football today.

Official rules were developed in 1873, and a Yale University player named Walter Camp helped change those rules into what we know today. Because of Walter Camp, the football field is now a set of ten sections that are each ten yards long. He also introduced the idea of downs, and he changed the number of players on the field to eleven.

Walter Camp made many changes to football that are still used today.
Early football

From the 1800s to Now

After Walter Camp's changes, there was a need for other changes as well. A group of over 60 colleges came together to discuss these changes, and this marked the start of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA. This group worked to make changes that would be safe for players, and now it oversees all types of college sports.

Football games are huge events on college campuses all over the country.

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