College football is one of the most popular sports in the USA. Four college football stadiums, Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, The University of Michigan’s Michigan Stadium, Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium and The University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium hold more than 100,000 fans and games are almost always sell out. Even high school football games draw more than 10,000 fans in some areas.

The birth of football in the United States goes back to Nov. 6, 1869, when teams from Princeton and Rutgers universities met in New Brunswick, New York, for the 1st intercollegiate football game. In the early games, each team was allowed twenty five players. By 1873 this number had been reduced to twenty, in 1876 it was reduced again to fifteen, and in 1880 to the present day number of eleven.

Over the years many changes have been made to the game. The playing field itself has been reduced in length from one hundred and twenty yards, exclusive of end zones, to the present one hundred yards, and in width from one hundred yards, to the current fifty three and one third yards.

The first baal used was round then became an oval shape 23 inches around the middle, and now is 20 3/4 -21 1/4 inches around the middle. Originally a touchdown was counted as two points and a field goal was five points. In the present day game a touchdown is worth six points and a field goal three points. Changes in the rules have been made to maintain a balance between the offense and defense, and to foster the safety of the players.
By 1906, the game was extremely rough, and many injuries and some deaths had occurred. Educators considered dropping the sport despite its popularity on campuses. Then President Theodore Roosevelt, an ardent advocate of strenuous sports, declared that it must be made safer. As a result, football leaders revamped the game and many of the rougher tactics were outlawed.

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One of the major changes to the rules was the legalizing of the forward pass.

It was hoped, and this hope was proven correct, that by opening up the game fewer players would be injured in the mass rushing plays that were so popular and effective at the turn of the century. The rules committee also changed the downs system, requiring a team to make ten yards, not five, in 3 tries for a 1st down. In 1912 the rule was changed to 4 tries, or downs, to make a 1st down.

After World War Two, college football players began to receive athletic scholarships in such increasing numbers that today nearly every major college football player is paid room, board, tuition, and other expenses, usually from donations from alumni and game profits. At the same time, the quality of the game has improved. Nearly all major college football teams are members of either the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which implement the rules and oversee competition between teams. most of the major universities are grouped in conferences, such as the Big Ten, the Pacific Ten, the Big Eight, the Southeastern Conference, and the Ivy League. College teams usually play about eleven games a season.

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