Pioneers of American Sports Have Left Legacies to Last Generations

By: Theo A. Katz

During most people’s childhood, at one point they probably decided to pick up a sports ball to dribble, throw, or hit. Creating a passion with a sport at a young age is an activity that occurs multiple times a day around the globe. 

When players first learn the rules of their beloved sport, they probably are unaware of how far the sport has come since its first invention decades ago, and at the point in time that they make their first basket, complete their first pass, or hit their first base hit to center-field, they become new to a fully re-imagined style of the game.

Two major American sports, basketball and football have transformed through unimaginable changes of which some include equipment, technology, rules, and scoring. 

Known as “the world’s greatest indoor sport”, basketball has come a long way since its creation in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith. 

According to Hoop Tactics, all the aspects of basketball that viewers see today live on television, all have been transformed since the day Naismith changed the world. 

When basketball was originally created, it wasn’t played with the typical “5 vs 5” format in the modern day. According to Hoop Tactics, each team could decide how many players they had at once, but it wasn’t until 1897 where the game turned to 5 on 5. 

Unlike the glass backboards and nylon baskets basketball players have seen in recent years, the first years of basketball were played with peach baskets that were hung from the running tracks of most indoor facilities. Those didn’t last long, and in 1892 they were replaced by heavy woven wire rims. A year later, cast iron rims were used.

Lastly in 1912, open ended nylon nets were used to speed up the game. The backboards were revolutionized from wire mesh backboards which attempted to prevent spectators in the balconies from interfering with play in 1895. In 1904, they were replaced by wood, and the plate glass spectators see today, first in 1909. 

In any sport, the most important part of the game is the ball. According to Hoop Tactics, the first basketball games were played with soccer balls, but they were unsuitable for dribbling and ball-handling. In the 1890s, Spalding took over as the official ball creator, making basketballs that provided more bounce and control. 

Naismith created a wonderful sport that people globally enjoy and strive to take a positive effect from. 

Along with basketball, football is one of the most popular sports in the country and is known as a great sporting event that goes along with tailgating, family gatherings, and living for the crunch-time moments on every Sunday throughout the season.

While the National Football League (NFL) was created in 1920, football was created in 1874 from the game of rugby. 

According to Sports Brief, Walter Camp, born in Connecticut, is the father of American football. During his college years, he attended Yale University and was a member of their rugby team. Camp wanted to create a sport that differed from rugby in terms of the rules, regulations, and style of play. Founding a separate sport, Camp implemented an 11 man roster, a quarterback, a line-of-scrimmage, offensive signal calling, and scoring. 

Throughout the course of the 18th century, football became a collegiate sport at numerous universities across North America. 

In accordance with Sports Brief, the first collegiate football match took place on Nov. 6, 1869 at Rutgers University where the Scarlet Knights defeated the Princeton University Tigers 6-4. 

Looking back on the beginning of football, the league has come a long way to the 32 teams fans watch today. According to Sports Brief, the American Football League (AFL) was founded in 1960, but merged with the modern NFL in 1970, creating a circuit of 16 total teams. 

Today, there are 32 total football teams in the NFL, 16 in the American Football Conference (AFC) and 16 in the National Football Conference (NFC), and four in each conference-division. 

Within the new 17-game schedule, each team plays their divisional rival twice. According to NBC Sports, teams play four games against teams from one division within its conference, four games against one division in the opposite conference, two games against teams from the two remaining divisions in its own conference, and one game against a non-conference opponent from a division that the team is not scheduled to play. 

In a typical football game, two teams compete with 11 players on each, with the objective to score the most points within the time given; four 15 minute quarters. 

There are many ways to score. The first is a touchdown worth six points. A team scores a touchdown by either running into the endzone or catching a pass in the endzone. After the touchdown comes the extra point, worth one point. Once a team scores a touchdown, the kicker will kick a 33 yard field goal. If good, the team gets a point added on to their score. 

The other way to score points by kicking is a field goal. If the team is in the kicker’s range, the kicker can attempt a field goal. If good, the team is awarded three points. 

Football has become a staple of American society, creating legends, and bringing thrilling moments to the fans. 

Both basketball and football have become transformed into sports in which people can play at any age, but most importantly leaving a legacy on their impacts. 

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