This Day in History – October 20th, 1873



Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football”

On this day in 1873, four American universities, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers published their first draft of American Football rules. The game, simply known as football in the United States, evolved from the sport rugby.

The first American football game was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. The game was played between two teams of 25 players each, used a round ball, and resembled a combination of rugby and soccer in its rules; the ball could not be picked up or carried, but it could be kicked or batted with the feet, hands, head or sides, with the ultimate goal of advancing it into the opponent’s goal. Rutgers won the game 6-4. Collegiate play continued for several years in which matches were played using the rules of the host school.

Representatives of Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Rutgers met on October 19, 1873 to create a standard set of rules for all schools to adhere to. Teams were set at 20 players each, and fields of 400 by 250 feet were specified. Harvard abstained from the conference, as they favored a rugby-style game that allowed running with the ball.

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