American football was created in the United States in the nineteenth century and was derived from Rugby. Originally played at the college level, professional teams were created in 1920. This version uses a smaller ball than rugby and is the most popular form of football in the U.S. The main difference from rugby is that the game is broken up into a series of plays, each ending when the ball touches the ground, and that for each play the offensive team is allowed one forward pass. In addition the ball does not need to be grounded to score, but simply carried into the end zone. The ultimate competition for this sport is the National Football League. Other professional leagues exist, many with rules variations. An example is the Canadian Football League, which has a larger field and three downs instead of four. Another is the Arena Football League, where games are played indoors on a shortened field.
Historically football was far more dangerous than it is today. In the early 1900s, football players even died from violent hits. Padding was minimal compared to today's gear. Many safety rules like the "fair catch" protection were considered to be only for sissies. At least one college player caught punts at a full running speed, which could result in horrific collisions.
Rugby was derived in England at around the same time as Soccer, initially at Rugby School. This version uses an elliptical ball with the main aim being to ground the ball over the opponents' goal line to score a try. Kicking and passing are permitted, but all passes must be backward. There are two versions of the sport, Rugby Union and Rugby League. Each uses a different numbers of players and slightly different rules. Rugby is popular in the U.K., France, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and throughout the South Pacific. The ultimate competition for this sport is the Rugby World Cup held every four years.
Unlike in American football, rugby and Australian rules football players wear minimal padding and accept that the risk of serious injury is part of sports. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been found in American football, rugby and soccer players.
|Soccer||Rugby League||Rugby Union||American Football||Canadian Football||Australian Rules|
|Number of players||11||13||15||11||12||18|
|Ball shape||spherical||elliptical; although American and Canadian footballs are more pointed|
|Handling||goalkeeper only||all players||all players not deemed ineligible until after the pass||all players|
|Passing||kicked or headed||backwards only, thrown||lateral + one forward pass per play, thrown||kicked or punched|
|Contact||no contact||full body contact|
|Common protective equipment||shin guards||none||helmet, shoulder/chest pads, jock strap, other pads (hip, thigh, knee, etc), mouth guard||none|
|Touchdown||n/a||ball grounded in touch zone, called a "try"||ball in endzone in player's possession, and player has two feet grounded in-bounds||n/a|
|Conversion||n/a||2||1 if kicked, 2 for touchdown||n/a|
|Goal||into opponent's net||kicked over/between opposing goal posts||kicked between opposing goal posts|
|Point value||1||1 drop; 2 penalty||3 drop; 3 penalty||3||6 for a goal; 1 for a behind|