Friday, September 01, 2017

The Fall of 2017 Part 3

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American Football

Constantly, we are reminded of American football on TV, newspapers, magazines, movies, radio broadcasts, etc. It is the most popular game in America right now. Its history stretches almost 150 years in its modern manifestation. Football is a game that revolves around skill, strength, teamwork, and physicality. Throughout the year, people play football. Fans of it exist among every sex and background. Every Saturday and Sunday, from the late Summer to the early Winter, football games are heavily televised internationally. Also, it is important to recognize that football is a game. We should deal with real life issues as well. From young children to grown adults, football has been played among many climates and circumstances. Also, adult women play in their professional football leagues too. That information will be mentioned here too. The popular spirit of American football is here to stay. Legends are included in football. Cultural icons and social activists exist among the ranks of football players as well. Today, many honorable people have boycotted the NFL because of its mistreatment of Colin Kaepernick. So, we have to realize that football is a game and we must continue to endorse liberation without the deification of an anthem created by a slave owner (whose original lyrics promoted slavery). We want freedom and justice.

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Its History

American football has a very long history. It evolved from soccer and rugby football too. One ancestor of football was played in Britain when a football was kicked at a goal or kicked over a line during the mid-19th century. Before that time, there was the ball game called harpastum played during the Roman Empire. Native Americans played games with a ball too. Rugby football is a sport where 2 competing teams vie for control of a ball. The ball can be kicked through a set of goalposts or run into the opponent’s goal area to score points. The first modern American football game took place on November 6, 1869. It was between Rutgers and Princeton. They are 2 college teams. The game was played between 2 teams of 25 players each and used a round ball that could not be picked or carried. It could be kicked or batted with the hands, feet, head, or sides with the goal ultimate goal being to advance it into the opponent’s goal. Rutgers won the game 6 goals to 4. Collegiate play continued for many years. These matches were played using the rules of the host school.

On October 19, 1873, the representatives of Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers met to form a set of rules for all schools to adhere to. Teams were set at 20 players each. The fields were in the dimensions of 400 by 250 feet (122 m × 76 m) were specified. Harvard abstained from the conference, as they favored a rugby-style game that allowed running with the ball. By 1875, the Harvard-Yale game played under rugby style rules was observed by two impressed Princeton athletes. Those players introduced the sport to Princeton. Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Columbia then agreed to intercollegiate play using a form of rugby union rules with a modified scoring system. These schools formed the Intercollegiate Football Association, although Yale did not join until 1879. Yale player Walter Camp, now regarded as the "Father of American Football", secured rule changes in 1880 that reduced the size of each team from 15 to 11 players and instituted the snap to replace the chaotic and inconsistent scrum. Walter Camp also excelled in track, baseball, and association football. Camp promoted the establishment of the line of scrimmage, the snap from center to quarterback which was passed in 1880. The game quickly evolved.

Camp's innovations in the area of point scoring influenced rugby union's move to point scoring in 1890. In 1887, game time was set at two halves of 45 minutes each. Also in 1887, two paid officials—a referee and an umpire—were mandated for each game. A year later, the rules were changed to allow tackling below the waist, and in 1889, the officials were given whistles and stopwatches.  The creation of the snap resulted in many consequences. Before the snap, the strategy was to punt if a scrum resulted in bad field position. However, a group of Princeton players realized that, as the snap was uncontested, they now could hold the ball indefinitely to prevent their opponent from scoring. In 1881, both Yale and Princeton played a game with this new strategy. Each team held the ball. They gained no ground for an entire half. It resulted in a 0-0 tie. This "block game" proved extremely unpopular with the spectators and fans of both teams. Some called for a rule change. Camp proposed another rule in 1882. He wanted each team to be limited to three downs or tackles to advance the ball five yards. Failure to advance the ball of the required distance within those three downs would result in control of the ball being forfeited to the other team. This change made American football a separate sport from rugby and the resulting five-yard lines added to the field to measure distances made it resemble a gridiron in appearance. Other major rule changes included a reduction of the field size to 110 by 53.333 yards (100.584 m × 48.768 m), and the adoption of a scoring system that awarded four points for a touchdown, two for a safety and a goal following a touchdown, and five for a goal from field; additionally, tackling below the waist was legalized.

The last, and arguably most important innovation, which would at last make American football uniquely "American", was the legalization of interference, or blocking, a tactic which was highly illegal under the rugby-style rules. The new rules were ahead of its time. The Big Game between Stanford and California is the oldest college football rivalry in the West. The first game was played on San Francisco's Haight Street Grounds on March 19, 1892 with Stanford winning 14–10. The term "Big Game" was first used in 1900, when it was played on Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco. The sport was a violent sport. Back then, there was dangerous mass-formation. This caused interlocking interference like the flying wedge. This caused serious injuries and deaths. A 1905 peak of 19 fatalities nationwide resulted in a threat by President Theodore Roosevelt to abolish the game unless major changes were made. In response, sixty-two colleges and universities met in New York City to discuss rule changes on December 28, 1905, and these proceedings resulted in the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later named the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The legal forward pass was introduced in 1906. It was limited due to the restrictions placed on its usage. There were other rule changes introduced like: that year included the reduction of the time of play from 70 to 60 minutes and the increase of the distance required for a first down from 5 to 10 yards (9.1 m). To reduce infighting and dirty play between teams, the neutral zone was created along the width of the football. The scoring changes included the following too: field goals were lowed to three points in 1909, and touchdowns were raised to six points in 1912. The field was also reduced to 100 yards (91 m) long, but two 10-yard-long end zones were created and teams were given four downs instead of three to advance the ball 10 yards (9.1 m). The roughing-the-passer penalty was implemented in 1914, and eligible players were first allowed to catch the ball anywhere on the field in 1918.

Charles Follis is believed to be the first black professional football player, having played for the Shelby Steamfitters from 1902 to 1906. Follis, a two sport athlete, was paid for his work beginning in 1904. From its inception in 1920 as a loose coalition of various regional teams, the American Professional Football Association had comparatively few African-American players; a total of nine black people suited up for NFL teams between 1920 and 1926, including future attorney, black activist, and internationally acclaimed artist Paul Robeson. Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall were the first black players in what is now the NFL in 1920. Pollard became the first (and until 1989, only) black coach in 1921; during the early-to-mid-1920s, the league used player-coaches and did not have separate coaching staffs. In 1933, the last year of integration, the NFL had two black players, Joe Lillard and Ray Kemp.

One professional football player from the old days was William “Pudge” Heffelfinger. On November 12, 1892, he was paid $500 to play for a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association in a match against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. This is the first recorded instance of a player being paid to participate in a game of American football. Many athletic clubs by the 1880’s offered indirect benefits like helping players attain employment, giving out trophies or watches that players could pawn for money, or paying double in expense money. Despite these extra benefits, the game had a strict sense of amateurism at the time, and direct payment to players was frowned upon, if not outright prohibited. As time came about, professional play was more common. Higher salaries existed and unpredictable player movement came about. There was the illegal payment of college players who were still in school. The National Football League (NFL) was a group of professional teams that was originated established in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association. The NFL was created to solve problems. It wanted to end bidding wars over players, it didn’t use college players, and it banned the practice of paying players to leave another team. By 1922, the NFL had established itself as the premier professional football league. Back during the early 20th century, football was dominated at the collegiate level. The upstart NFL received a boost in legitimacy in 1925. That was when a NFL team called the Pottsville Maroons defeated a team of Notre Dame all stars in an exhibition game. A greater emphasis on the passing game helped professional football to further distinguish itself from the college game during the late 1930’s.

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The 1940’s saw massive evolution of football. Elmer Layden was the first Commissioner of the NFL in 1941. Many players were traded to the Steelers and the Rams. The league added sudden death overtimes in a playoff game if it was a tied and an official NFL Record Manual was published for the first time. The Bears defeated the Packers 33-14. By December 21, 1941, the Bears defeated the Giants 37-9 for the NFL Championship. By the time of World War II, many players were in service for World War II.  Halas left the Bears in midseason to join the Navy, and Luke Johnsos and Heartley (Hunk) Anderson served as co-coaches as the Bears went 11-0 in the regular season.  One famous quarterback of the 1940’s was Sammy Baugh. He won the triple crown in 1943. He led the league in passing, punting, and interceptions. Sammy Baugh was one of the greatest football players of his generation. He was an actor too. He played for Washington.

Kenneth S. Washington (August 31, 1918 – June 24, 1971) was a professional football player who was the first African-American to sign a contract with a National Football League team in the modern (post-World War II) era. He was born in Los Angeles, California. Washington was a star running back at Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles. At UCLA, Washington rushed for 1,914 yards in his college career, a school record for 34 years. He was one of four African American players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team, the others being Woody Strode, Jackie Robinson and Ray Bartlett. Washington, Strode, and Robinson starred on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team, in which they made up three of the four backfield players.  This was a rarity to have so many African Americans when only a few dozen at all played on college football teams. He played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1946 to 1948.

Steve Van Buren of Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing, kickoff returns, and scoring in 1945. In 1949, the NFL had two 1,000 yard rushers in the same season for the first time. Their names are Steve Van Buren of Philadelphia and Tony Canadeo of Green Bay. By the early 1950’s, the Pro Bowl Game returned to the NFL. In 1951, there was the first NFL Championship Game being televised coast to coast. It happened on December 23. The DuMont Network paid $75,000 for the rights of the game. The Rams defeated the Brown in the game with the score of 24-17. During the 1950’s, fullback Joe Perry of the 49ers became the first player in league history to gain 1,000 yards rushing in consecutive seasons of 1953 and in 1954. In December 28, 1952, the Detroit Lions won their NFL championship in 17 years. They defeat the Browns 17 to 7. The Baltimore Colts was created during the 1950’s. In 1953, Jim Thorpe (an innovator of football and other forms of athletics) passed away on March 28. In 1955, Baltimore Colts made an 80-cent phone call to Johnny Unitas and signed him as a free agent. Another quarterback, Otto Graham, played his last game as the Browns defeated the Rams 38-14 in the NFL Championship Game, December 26. Graham had quarterbacked the Browns to 10 championship-game appearances in 10 years. Johnny Unitas would be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.  In 1958, Jim Brown of Cleveland gained an NFL-record 1,527 yards rushing. In a divisional playoff game, the Giants held Brown to eight yards and defeated Cleveland 10-0. Jim Brown would be in the NFL in 1957 and would become one of the greatest rushing backs in NFL history. He was a 8× NFL rushing yards leader (1957–1961, 1963–1965). By 1964, he was NFL Champion. In 1958, Baltimore, coached by Weeb Ewbank, defeated the Giants 23-17 in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game, December 28. The game ended when Colts fullback Alan Ameche scored on a one-yard touchdown run after 8:15 of overtime. By 1959, Vince Lombardi was the Coach of the Green Bay Packers.

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Football increased its popularity massively by the 1958 Championship NFL game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. It was an overtime victory for the Colts. Millions of people saw it on television and the sport grew into immense popularity. There was the American Football League (or AFL) by the early 1960’s. Football started to be the most popular sport in the United States by the mid-1960’s. The rival American Football League arose in 1960 and challenged the NFL's dominance. The AFL began in relative obscurity but eventually thrived, with an initial television contract with the ABC network. The AFL's existence forced the conservative NFL to expand to Dallas and Minnesota in an attempt to destroy the new league.

By the 1960’s, the NFL grew into new heights. A bill legalizing single-network television contracts by professional sports leagues was introduced in Congress by Representative Emanuel Celler. It passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on September 30, 1961. The Football Hall of Fame was officially opened in Canton, Ohio on September 7, 1963. In the 1960’s, the NFL and the AFL compete against each other for professional players.

Meanwhile, the AFL introduced many new features to Professional Football in the United States: official time on the scoreboard clock, rather than on a watch in the referee's pocket, as the NFL did; optional two-point conversions by pass or run after touchdowns; names on the jerseys of players; and several others, including expansion of the role of minority players, actively recruited by the league in contrast to the NFL. The AFL also signed several star college players that had also been drafted by NFL teams. Competition for players heated up in 1965, when the AFL New York Jets signed rookie Joe Namath to a then-record US $437,000 contract. A five-year, $40 million NBC television contract followed, which helped to sustain the young league. The bidding war for players ended in 1966, when NFL owners approached the AFL regarding a merger, and the two leagues agreed on one that would take full effect in 1970. This agreement gave a common draft that took place each year. There was an annual World Championship game to be played between each champions of each league. The game was played at the end of the 1966 season. Once the merger was completed, it was no longer a championship game between two leagues, and reverted to the NFL championship game, which came to be known as the Super Bowl. One of the most racist people in NFL history was George Preston Marshall. He refused to allow black players in his team until well into the 1960's. He had racism and he wanted to appeal to the racist Southerners back then too. According to professor Charles Ross, "For 24 years Marshall was identified as the leading racist in the NFL." Marshall died in 1969. By 1962, Bobby Mitchell was the first African American who played for Washington. Bobby Mitchell was in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

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During the 1970’s, many teams like the Steelers with Terry Bradshaw and others made championships. Millions of people watch the Superbowl. The Raiders, Washington, and other teams won Superbowls. Walter Payton excelled in the running back position. San Francisco’s Joe Montana and the ride receiver Jerry Rice won rings during the 1980’s as well. The first Africnan American quarterback to win a Super Bowl was Doug Williams in January 31, 1988 when he defeated the Denver Broncos. Doug Williams played in Washington.

During the 1990’s, the Dallas Cowboys won 3 Super Bowl championships in 4 years. By 1998 and 1999, the Denver Broncos won back to back Super Bowls. The 21st century saw a diversity of teams meaning championships from the Rams to the Patriots plus the Colts. The Ravens (with Ray Lewis as its leader in Baltimore) and other newer teams won their first Championships during the 21st century. Football continues to expand and grow in our generation. Legends of the National Football League are diverse spanning decades. They include Walter Payton and Joe Montana. They include people like Joe Aikman and Jim Brown. They also include people like Deion Sanders and the legendary player Gale Sayers. College football is known for postseason bowl games too. Each bowl game would be associated with a particular conference, and earning a spot in a bowl game was the reward for winning a conference. This arrangement was profitable, but it tended to prevent the two top-ranked teams from meeting in a true national championship game, as they would normally be committed to the bowl games of their respective conferences. Several systems have been used since 1992 to determine a national champion of college football. The first was the Bowl Coalition, in place from 1992 to 1994. This was replaced in 1995 by the Bowl Alliance, which gave way in 1997 to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The BCS arrangement proved to be controversial, and was replaced in 2014 by the College Football Playoff (CFP).  Today, the NFL is very popular in the early 21st century. The commissioner now is Roger Coodell, who has been controversial on many issues. Professional football leagues exist globally.

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Team Positions

There are three different positions in the game of American football. There is the offensive unit, the defensive unit, and special teams. Today, football is played between 2 teams of 11 players each. It is a penalty if more than 11 players are on the field. Teams can substitute players between downs. Many substitution rules are abundant. Individual players in a football game have a number on their jersey. In NFL teams, numbers are approved for their usage in a game.Uniform numbers range from 1 to 99. NCAA and NFHS teams are “strongly advised” to number their offensive players according to league suggested numbering scheme. The offensive unit’s goal is to advance the football down the field with the goal of sourcing a touchdown. In playbooks, the offensive line looks like circles while the defense unit looks like squares. The offensive line lines up in legal formation before the snap happens. It is illegal for more than four players to be in the backfield or fewer than five players numbered 50-79 on the offensive line. Players can temporarily line up in a position whose eligibility is different from what their number permits as long as they immediately report the change to the referee, who then informs the defensive team of the change. Neither team's players, with the exception of the snapper, are allowed to line up in or cross the neutral zone until the ball is snapped. Interior offensive linemen are not allowed to move until the snap of the ball. The main backfield includes the quarterback (QB), the halfback/tailback (HB/TB), and fullback (FB). The quarterback is the leader of the offense. The quarterback or the coach calls the plays.

Quarterbacks inform the rest of the offense of the play in the huddle before the team lines up. When the quarterback starts the snap, he gets the ball and either throws it, sends it to someone else, or runs with the ball. The halfback runs plays by running. Some halfbacks can act as receivers. Fullbacks are usually larger than halfbacks. Fullbacks can act as blockers too. Running backs are key in the offensive lineup too. The offensive line or OL is made up of players who block members of the defensive line from tackling the ball carrier on running plays or sacking the quarterback on passing plays. The leader of the offensive line is the center (C), who is responsible for snapping the ball to the quarterback, blocking, and for making sure that the other linemen do their jobs during the play. On either side of the center are the guards (G), while tackles (T) line up outside of the guards. The main receivers are the wide receivers (WR) and the tight ends (TE). Wide receivers line up on or near the line of scrimmage, split outside of the line. The main goal of the wide receiver is to catch passes thrown by the quarterback. Yet, they may also function as decoys or as blockers during running plays. Tight ends line up outside of the tackles and function both as receivers and as blockers.

The defense is meant to prevent the offense from scoring. They can tackle the ball carrier or force turnovers by interceptions or fumbles. The defensive line (DL) is made up of defensive ends (DE) and defensive tackles (DT). Defensive ends line up on the ends of the line, while defensive tackles line up inside, between the defensive ends. The major responsibility of defensive ends and defensive tackles is to stop running plays on the outside and inside. They want to pressure the quarterback on passing plays, and to occupy the line so that the linebackers can break through. Linebackers are behind the defensive line, but in front of the defensive backfield. They are divided into middle linebackers (MLB) and outside linebackers (OLB). Linebackers are the defensive leaders and call the defensive plays. Their diverse roles include defending the run, pressuring the quarterback, and guarding backs, wide receivers and tight ends in the passing game. The defensive backfired is made up of the secondary. They are made up of cornerbacks (CB) and safeties (S). Safeties are themselves divided into free safeties (FS) and strong safeties (SS). Cornerbacks line up outside the defensive formation, typically opposite of a receiver so as to be able to cover him, while safeties line up between the cornerbacks but farther back in the secondary. Safeties are the last line of defense, and are responsible for stopping deep passing plays as well as running plays.

The special teams unit handles kicking plays. The special team unit controls the ball and will try to execute the field goals, punts, and kickoffs. The opposing team will try to block or return them. Three positions are specific to the field goal and PAT (point-after-touchdown) unit: the placekicker (K or PK), holder (H) and long snapper (LS). The long snapper's job is to snap the football to the holder, who will catch and position it for the placekicker. There is not usually a holder on kickoffs, because the ball is kicked off of a tee; however, a holder may be used in certain situations, such as if wind is preventing the ball from remaining upright on the tee. The player on the receiving team who catches the ball is known as the kickoff returner (KR). The positions specific to punt plays are the punter, long snapper, and gunner. The long snapper snaps the football directly to the punter, who then drops and kicks it before it hits the ground. Gunners line up split outside of the line and race down the field, aiming to tackle the punt returner (PR) or the player that catches the punt.

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There are many rules in American football. The winner of the game is the team who has scored the most points by the end of the game. There are many ways to score in a football game. A touchdown is 6 points. A team reaching the end zone of the opposing team has the touchdown. Then, the scoring team will use a conversion which is a point after touchdown. A 2 point conversion is an option after the touchdown too. A field goal is worth 3 points. A safety is scored when the ball carrier is tackled in his own end zone. Safeties are worth only 2 points, which are awarded to the defense. Also, the team that conceded the safety must kick the ball to the scoring team via a free kick. There are goal posts, and different equipment used in football games.  The football itself is an oval ball, similar to the balls used in rugby or Australian rules football. At all levels of play, the football is inflated to  12 1⁄2 to  13 1⁄2pounds per square inch (psi) and weighs 14 to 15 ounces (397 to 425 grams); beyond that, the exact dimensions vary slightly. In professional play the ball has a long axis of 11 to  11 1⁄4 inches, a long circumference of 28 to  28 1⁄2 inches, and a short circumference of 21 to  21 1⁄4 inches, while in college and high school play the ball has a long axis of  10 7⁄8 to  11 7⁄16 inches, a long circumference of  27 3⁄4 to  28 1⁄2 inches, and a short circumference of  20 3⁄4 to  21 1⁄4 inches. In football games, there are hash marks, yard lines, and sidelines.

Football games last for a total of 60 minutes in professional and college play and are divided into two halves of 30 minutes and four quarters of 15 minutes. High school football games are 48 minutes in length with two halves of 24 minutes and four quarters of 12 minutes. The two halves are separated by a halftime period, and the first and third quarters are also followed by a short break. Prior to the start of the game, the referee and team captains for each team meet at midfield for a coin toss. The visiting team is allowed to call 'heads' or 'tails'; the winner of the toss is allowed to decide from between choosing whether to receive or kick off the ball or choosing which goal they want to defend, but they can also defer their choice until the second half. The losing team, unless the winning team decides to defer, is allowed to choose the option the winning team did not select, and receives the option to receive, kick, or select a goal to defend to begin the second half.

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Various Leagues

The NFL and the NCAA are the most popular leagues in America. The NFL was founded in 1920. It is the largest and most popular sport in America. The NFL has the highest average attendance of any sporting league in the world, with an average attendance of 66,960 during the 2011 NFL Season. The Super Bowl is very popular too. College football is the third most popular sport in America behind professional baseball and professional football. The NCAA is the largest collegiate organization. It has Division I, II, and III.  Division I football is further divided into two subdivisions: the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The champions of each level of play are determined through NCAA-sanctioned playoff systems; while the champion of Division I-FBS was historically determined by various polls and ranking systems, the subdivision adopted a four-team playoff system in 2014. 1.1 million young people play high school football. The NFHS is the largest organization for high school football, with member associations in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. USA Football is the governing body for youth and amateur football, and Pop Warner Little Scholars is the largest organization for youth football. Rival football leagues have existed. The American Football League lasted from 1960 to 1969. The World Football League lasted from 1974 to 1975. The United States Football League lasted from 1983 to 1985. The XFL lasted in 2001 for one year. The United Football League lasted from 2009 to 2012. Today, the Canadian Football League has existed for years and it is very popular in North America and throughout the world.

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Women's Football

Women have played football for long decades. Back during 1926, many women played football during the halftime section of a NFL game.  There were women’s football leagues back during the 1930’s. It was very popular back then too. This was during the period between World War I and World War II. Life (which is a magazine) in November 1939 and Click (a magazine) in January of 1940 showed women playing football in uniforms, helmets, pants, and shoulder pads. Not too many people know of these facts, but it is always important to show all of history as possible. All people, regardless of race, gender, nationality, or any background, have the right to play football. These women were playing in Los Angeles. One team was the Marshall-Clampett Amazons. These women athletes played softball too. One player of the team was Melitas Forster. In an interview, she said that the football league was created by a softball promoter. Women’s softball during the 1930’s was very popular too. One Desert Sun article said that the Marshall-Clampett players beat a men’s Buster Keaton’s Palm Springs team 5-4 in a charity game.  Thousands of people came to witness the women’s football games during the 1930’s. Back then, many sexists viewed the women as not worthy of playing football because they said it was too dangerous for a woman. The Los Angeles football league soon ended, because the players played softball more. Chicago had its second women’s football league by the summer of 1941. From 1965-1966, Sid Friedman created a semipro tackle women’s football league. The league only had 2 teams found in Akron and Cleveland. By 1972, more teams joined in Cleveland, Toledo, Toronto, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh in the Women’s Professional Football League. After World War II, women’s football mostly ended until the 1970’s. By that time, a semipro women’s league was shown in Ohio and Texas. It was mentioned in Ebony, Jet, and Texas Monthly.

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Patricia Palinkas was the first woman to ever play on a men’s semipro football team in 1970. She joined the Orlando Panthers. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 was one of the greatest laws of the women’s rights movement. It was passed into law by June 23, 1972. It mandated financial equality in college athletics. This caused women participation in sports to radically increase. By 1974, the National Women’s Football League was founded. It started with 7 teams. By the mid-1970’s, the average NWFL franchise entry fee was $10,000. Some of the early teams were the Dallas Bluebonnets, Fort Worth Shamrocks, Columbus Pacesetters, Toledo Troopers, Los Angeles Dandelions, California Mustangs and the Detroit Demons.  In 1976 the NWFL added several new teams and incorporated three divisions: the Eastern, Southern and Western. These new divisions included the Oklahoma City Dolls and the Tucson Wild Kittens, drawing approximately 1,000 fans per game. The Toledo Troopers had a record from 1971 to 1976 of 39 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie. The first NWFL Championship game was in 1976.  It was folded in 1980 due to financial problems. The NWFL franchises out of California formed their own league in 1978 called the Western States Women’s Professional Football League. It was run by the Dandelions’ owner Russell Molzahn. The NWFL took a year off to restructure in 1987.

By the next year, the league was split into two. The remnants of the NWFL based in Toledo and the new Women’s Tackle Football Association is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While the WTFA wanted to continue to play tackle football, several teams in the NWFL chose to change their game to flag-touch football instead.  Women’s football is international too. The Women’s Professional Football League (WPFL) was formed in 1999 by founders, Carter Turner and Terry Sullivan.  More football American leagues for women continued to develop in the 21st century. The Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) and the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) were leagues created during the 21st century. The IWFL was created in 2000 and started play in 2001. The IWFL (and other women’s leagues) continue to this very day.

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“It might not be everyone’s calling to lead a cause, but I want to challenge those NFL players, coaches, and, yes, owners who have been silent, and those who have been making uninformed statements, to be courageous and use their platforms to become part of the solution. It’s not about WHO is right or WHO is wrong, it’s about WHAT is right and WHAT is wrong. Which side are you on?”

-Takeo Spikes, a retired NFL Player

Colin Kaepernick

I can never mention anything about football without mentioning information about Colin Kaepernick. He is a biracial man who used a kneel in football stadiums during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. With recent news, he has made history in enumerable, positive ways. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and he was the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. He is also known for his heroic protest against police brutality and against racial injustice in the world. He has galvanized even more people (from the young and old) to stand up for what is right. What is right that people have the free speech right to protest and many veterans are some of Kaepernick's strongest supporters of his actions. His protest of the anthem was peaceful, legitimate, and very powerful. Not to mention that the original anthem glamorized slavery, which is wrong.
Colin Kaepernick has sent money to social justice causes, created a youth camp to assist children, and has meet in many meetings to be part of the solutions. So, he has not only spoken up for justice. He has been socially active to engineer constructive changes in our society. Today, athletes, and other individuals nationwide have protested gloriously. This is not new. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf did it in 1996. Back then, it was more taboo to do it and Rauf suffered a lot. Today, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is in solidarity with Kaepernick's necessary actions.

Jim Brown made recent comments about Colin Kaepernick (who has done nothing wrong and actually gave money and created programs to promote community development and oppose police brutality. He exercised his free speech rights). A lot of this stuff is a generational gap. Many of the older generation agree with the same goal as Kaepernick while some of them disagree with many of the younger generation's tactics in order to get to the same goal (which is freedom, justice, and equality). Brown (who I believe has sincerity in his words) said the words that he said, because of many reasons. Back during the 1960's, he was an activist. He was with Muhammad Ali ironically in supporting his right to oppose the Vietnam War. Brown is from an older generation who doesn't agree with the protest aspect of civil rights movement. He believes in self-defense, which I do too. There is a time for nonviolence and there is a time for self-defense under extreme circumstances after all nonviolent resolutions are exhausted. Jim Brown believes in the the old school way of building black businesses and focusing on economics (which we call black capitalism) instead of politics in order for black people to get into freedom. Brown was in the conservative wing of the Black Power movement, which is why he supported Nixon in 1968.

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Brown may disagree with some of Dr. King's actions, but Dr. King never begged for anything. He demanded the government to do what it was called to do and what it ought to do. Dr. King (who was more than a speech maker. He was a social activist) demanded change and fought for it. Sometimes, you have to be an activist to get what you want. So, Jim Brown's words are not shocking. I don't believe that he's a sellout or a race traitor, but I do disagree with his support of Donald Trump. He criticized John Lewis for opposing Trump. Trump is a notorious racist, sexist, and xenophobe. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Dr. John Carlos, and Dr. Harry Edwards have publicly opposed the Trump regime. The truth is that both protests and other forms of social activism caused many civil rights, voting rights, and housing rights laws to exist in the first place. I also disagree with him in saying that an inoffensive kneel is somehow a desecration of a flag. Brown loves the anthem when that anthem was created by a racist slave owner (and the original lyrics of that anthem condoned slavery). I don't agree with Brown on other issues (and that's a different story). Therefore, while Jim Brown's views are disappointing, his statements are are not surprising. Jim Brown has worked in many communities to advance conflict resolution, job creation, and community development, so he has done a lot for our people. Likewise, this is a new generation and we will not sugarcoat the truth. You can both participate in an occupation and use activism at the same time. Hank Aaron has supported Kaepernick. So, while we should have ideological diversity in the black community, we have to call it as it is too (and keep it real).

One way to bridge the generational gap in our black community is to advocate for protests, the building of more black institutions & organizations (which are used to fight institutionalized racism and economic injustices like poverty. Also, they are used to build in our communities a strong infrastructure among urban and rural communities), the creation of more spaces where black people of diverse age demographics can share ideas (and speak their minds for collaboration), and a continued advocacy of social plus racial justice. We all agree (regardless of our views) in advancing strong educational institutions to give black children great understanding about STEM Fields plus technical skills (which is important and must be done). Black children must also be told the truth about their real history and culture in a pro-Black fashion. Education is the life blood of any society. So, we must promote strong education, strong preparation in handling issues in the world, and a vigor to create positive change. Forming plans and executing them is key in getting change too. Police brutality is a real issue that must be confronted and eradicated.

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Today, Colin Keapernick is having difficulty in trying to go into a NFL team, because many corporate executives from football team oppose his actions. He also visited Ghana in Africa. About 70 percent of the NFL players are African Americans, so our voices have the right to be heard. Former NFL Player Takeo Spikes made the accurate point that all of us (whether we are athletes or not) have the right to express social activism in our daily lives: “In a democracy, citizenship is participatory; it is not a spectator endeavor. It is a formula for tragedy, and a moral travesty, to see wrongs and choose to look away, or to straddle the fence on critical issues in order to stay in the good graces of certain interests…” Some from the Baltimore Ravens want him to play for them as Colin Kaepernick is a very good quarterback. I congratulate Colin Kaepernick for his steadfast determination to stand up for justice. We reject a recrudescence of injustice. We want the renewal of the substantial reality of hope, of faith, and of the liberation for our communities.

#Black Lives Matter.

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International Impact

American football is a worldwide game. There has been the NFL Europa, which was a developmental league of the NFL that lasted from 1991 to 2007. It has teams in Germany, which were five in number and one in the Netherlands. The European Football League or the EFL was run by the European Federation of American Football (EFAF). That is an annual invitation tournament between champions or co-champions of competitions run by EFAF members. The league’s championship game is called the Eurobowl. There are other EFAF tournaments like the EFAF Cup (between the top teams from national leagues in a similar manner to the UEFA Cup), the Atlantic Cup (played between teams from the Atlantic region of Europe), and the Challenge Cup (which is played between teams from newer federations that are not eligible to play in the EEFL or EFAF Cup). There are over 60 football federations in Asia, Oceania, and Pan America. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF), an international body composed of American football federations, runs tournaments such as the IFAF World Championship, which is held every four years since 1999, the IFAF Women's World Championship, the IFAF U-19 World Championship and the Flag Football World Championship.

The IFAF also organizes the annual International Bowl game. At the international level, Canada, Mexico, and Japan are considered to be second-tier, while Austria, Germany, and France would rank among a third tier. All of these countries rank far below the United States, which is dominant at the international level. Right now, football is not an Olympic sport. It was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Summer Olympics. I remember when Emmett Smith in a commercial wanted football to be an Olympic sport. Football is heavily popular in the Americas from Canada, Mexico, and in Brazil. In Brazil, American football audience increased 800% between 2013 and 2016, according to ESPN, which is, along to Esporte Interativo, the responsible to the transmission in the country. Brazil's audience is the 3rd of the world, behind only Mexico and United States. NFL leaders visited Maracanã Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, to verify the field.  This popularity is influenced by the placekicker of the Kansas City Chiefs, Cairo Santos, who is the first Brazilian player to reach worldwide success in the sport. Football is played in Brazil. One league in Brazil is called the  Superliga Nacional de Futebol Americano (National American Football Super league) is a recently created Brazilian American football league, created and organized by the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol Americano (pt)(Brazilian Confederation of American Football). To 2017, a strongest league will get start in June, including 32 teams around the country, in 4 conferences.

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Concluding thoughts on the Gridiron

Football is the most popular sport in America. Men, women, and children flock to American football games from the collegiate level into the professional level. It has been promoted across generations, ages, and sexes. Also, football leagues have the social responsibility to be informative, to promote the advantages and risks of playing football, and to advance as much safety as possible. We know that many ex-players have CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE among football players readily come about by excessive hits to the head and concussions. Concussions can harm the brain permanently if done frequently. Back in the day, this issue was covered up by many forces. Today, more people know about CTE, many ex-football players have advanced lawsuits (because many players are so damaged that they have memory loss and other ailments), and the 2015 film Concussion definitely shed light on this issue. Will Smith in the film portrayed Dr. Bennet Omalu. He is a neuropathologist who was the first person to discover and publish findings of CTE. CTE is a degenerative disease. Those who have it also are found in hockey, boxing, professional wrestling, stunt performing, bull riding, rodeo riding, rugby, etc. On April 22, 2015 a final settlement was reached between players and the NFL in the case adjudicated by Judge Brody. Terms include payments to be made by the NFL for $75 million for "baseline medical exams" for retired players, $10 million for research and education, as well an uncapped amount for retirees "who can demonstrate that they suffer from one of several brain conditions covered by the agreement", with total payments expected to exceed $1 billion over 65 years.  On July 25, 2017, the Association released an updated study reporting that out of 111 brains of deceased former NFL players studied, 110 (99%) had CTE.  This also led to players retiring very early in their careers. Therefore, this is real. This isn’t some game. Football is a very violent sport. Also, football is a very creative, interesting sport too. Therefore, football is a game where talented people express themselves. We should know about its risks and its history in order to inspire positive change in the world.

By Timothy

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