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How the NFL Became the Most Popular Sports Event Over the Years?

The biggest tournament of American football, NFL is considered to be one of the most entertaining and profitable sports business on Earth. The tournament authorities have earned around $15 billion US dollars in 2018 alone and they have claimed that their profit margin is also increasing at a steady level. It is a direct reflection of the increase in popularity of the sport over the years. It is astonishing to know that NFL owners, out of 50, now have the 20 most costly sports franchises in the world.

Millions of sports lovers also want to earn money out of this tournament by doing sports betting. With the advent of the Smartphone, they have also started doing mobile betting and it is attracting more people to the world of betting. Many people want to know what was the origin of this popular sports tournament? Did it started in a dusty field starting on a fluke or it began as a planned endeavour?

If you go back to the beginnings of American football, it will be found that it started as a combination of rugby and football. Both of these games have got their varieties and original story, in Britain. Just like any other sports, it all began in a college. The first game was played between Princeton and Rutgers on November 6th in the year 1869. Though it was noted as the first football game in college, it was very different from the game which we used to play. The rules of the American football changed when Walter Camp, a noted rugby player in the Yale University, made some serious changes to the rules of the game.He made blocking legalized and set distance and down rules and most importantly, the line of scrimmage.

After the Civil War and starting from its end, the athletic clubs became very popular. They used to sponsor various activities and events where one club was pitted against each other. As time passed by the sports was drawing good crowds and it gave birth of intense rivalries, just like between Pittsburg Athletic Club (PAC) and Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA).

The day 12th November is remembered in the hearts and minds of football lovers. In that game, Pittsburg Athletic club was defeated by Allegheny Athletic Association. In that game, AAA paid William Heffelfinger a sum of $500 and thus he became the first player to play football and get paid.

During the First World War, the teams of different clubs were finding it hard to find good athletics who could play football locally for their clubs. As a result, they started hiring players from other states. This concept became popular and all clubs and teams started feeling that this need to be regulated well and handled quite efficiently. Hence the American Profession Football Association was formed in 1920. The NFL was founded in the year 1921.

Just like nowadays, players were not needed to wear helmets till the year 1939 while playing in the college games and till 1943 while playing in the PRO league. While playing some of the players used to protect them by using big man buns.

At that time, NFL was very much secondary to college football but also to boxing, horse racing and baseball. Over the years, the owners of different teams brought out the NFL from this position to one of the most popular events by the concept of cooperation and competition.

As time moved on, clubs went to add new innovations to make the sport more interesting to the fans. Initially forward passes were banned, but they were allowed later. The melon sized ball was introduced to make the concept of passing look practical.

NFL authorities tried to expand their reach by reaching to television and radio and they continued playing during the period of Second World War when many of the colleges suspended their programs. As a result, NFL started expanding to the west of California. Another good move which encouraged the tournament to grow is allowing the black players to participate. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum commissioners said that they will participate only if they are integrated. There were many talented black American football players and the process cannot be complete if half of them are eliminated. During the decade of the 1960’s many African Americans became a major part of Pro football and it opened the door for American Samoans. In a recent statistics, it has been found that they have got the distinction of contributing to the highest numbers of athletes from any ethnic group. As a result of this, many African Americans started participating in the tournament and its popularity started growing at a fast rate across the entire America.

The historic decision was taken in 1970 when NFL got merged with 11 years old American Football League popularly known as AFL. It did not repeat the mistake which was done by AAFC. NFL drafted all the college players so that the league has a balanced competitive mindset and it attracted many fans to the game. At the same time, the revenue model was also made very unique. The money which NFL earned from national television contracts was distributed among all the teams. Getting money helped the teams to hire good standard players and it helped to improve the standard of the game to a great extent.

After the merger with AFL, the popularity of NFL started rising at a very fast pace and gradually, the percentage of African American players started increasing and reached to the current level of 70 percent. As a result, celebrity athletes started appearing in different advertisements, endorsing different products. Black athletics from different sports started becoming the face of different commercial advertisements. Hertz was doing for O.J. Simpson, Nike hired Tiger Woods and Michael Jordon was from basketball and so on. In fear of losing their white American fans these players refused to endorse anti racist images as it may hurt the sentiments of the white customers. They refused to participate in civil rights issues for fear of controversy.

Ed Rooney

Just a guy with too much free time trying to help out.