Association football, also called simply football or soccer, is a team sport traditionally played between two teams of eleven players each. It is the most popular sport in the world, with an estimated total viewership of over 250 million viewers in more than 200 nations and dependencies. In many ways it is comparable to American football but with a different format. The game is often played outdoors on natural surfaces; such as grass or mud.
The main characteristic of football is that it is played between two teams at an “even” pace. This means that there is always play behind the ball – both teams try to catch up and play until one team scores from their side of the field. At the end of the game, the winner is the team with the most points. The score is scored separately for each of the two teams, so that if one team has a greater number of scoring goals than the other, then the player who scored the most goals wins the game. This may sound simple, but there are a number of details that must be taken into consideration before the actual game takes place.
To begin with, teams are generally designated based upon the size of their playing surface; usually a rectangular field of nine yards by twelve yards. Extra points are awarded for winning corners, goals scored in extra time (halves), penalties, and any fouls committed by members of the teams. The referee will usually keep the football in play in the event of an accidental kick; the kicking ball will be taken to the center of the foul line and will be given time to play again. This rule was instigated in order to avoid “pointless” or meaningless matches where there is no real competition to decide who gets to sit in what quadrant of the field. Points are also given for field goals as well as corner kicks.
Scoring is very simple. When a team plays another with the football in play, the first team to earn three points is declared the winner. A two-point conversion is then carried out in order to move the football from one side of the field to the other. For example, if the football ends up on the opposite side of the field from where it started, then a two-point conversion is required, otherwise the game will end at the same point as the previous play.
Unlike rugby, American football did not become popular as a professional sport until the later half of the nineteenth century. Rugby had been a popular contact sport throughout Europe and parts of North America for several decades prior to the American football evolving as a viable, competitive recreation. American football was initially founded on a playing field made of sand with a goal post located in the center. Although football evolved into a more refined sport with more elaborate rules and scoring mechanisms, it maintained its early roots, which made it difficult for spectators to appreciate the game. Even with the sophisticated rules that helped create better safety measures for players, the popularity of football did not peak until after the Civil War.
Today, modern day American football resembles much of its early progenitor, with the emphasis being placed on control, speed, athleticism, and touch. Although football has evolved into what we see today, with rules and athletic departments being comparable to those of any sport in any country, the roots of gridiron football are still incredibly strong in this country. Although football may never fully surpass its European and North American cousins, there is no denying the fact that it has managed to stay afloat and continue to grow into a popular pastime. As years pass and our sports become more demanding, we will likely see this popular pastime transform into professional athletics like the NFL.