American football, also known as gridiron in the United States and Canada, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at either end. The offense, the team in possession of the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, the team without possession of the ball, aims to halt the offense’s advance and seize control of the ball.
The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs or plays; if they fail, the ball is turned over to the defense; if they succeed, a new set of four downs is assigned to continue the drive. To score points, the ball must be advanced into the opposing team’s end zone for a touchdown or kicked through the opponent’s goalposts for a field goal. At the end of a game, the team with the most points wins.
Development of American football
American football developed in the United States, derived from soccer and rugby. On November 6, 1869, the first American football game was played between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, based on soccer rules. The snap, the line of scrimmage, eleven-player teams, and the concept of downs were all established by a set of rule changes drafted by Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football,” beginning in 1880. Later rule changes made the forward pass legal, established the neutral zone, and defined the size and shape of the football. The sport is closely related to Canadian football, which evolved concurrently with and at the same time as the American game, though its rules evolved independently of Camp’s. The majority of the characteristics that distinguish American football from rugby and soccer also exist in Canadian football. The two sports are considered gridiron football’s primary variants.
Broadcast viewership of American football
In terms of broadcast viewership, American football is the most popular sport in the United States. Professional and college football are the most popular forms of the game, with high school and youth football being the other major levels. In 2012, nearly 1.1 million high school athletes and 70,000 college athletes participated in the sport in the United States. The most popular American professional football league, the National Football League, has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world.
The Super Bowl, its championship game, is one of the most-watched club sporting events in the world. The league’s annual revenue is estimated to be around $15 billion, making it the most valuable sports league in the world. Other professional leagues exist across the globe, but the sport lacks the international popularity of other American sports such as baseball or basketball
Duration and Time stoppage
Football games in professional and college play last 60 minutes total, divided into two halves of 30 minutes and four quarters of 15 minutes. High school football games last 48 minutes, divided into two halves of 24 minutes each and four quarters of 12 minutes each. A halftime break separates the two halves, and a short break follows the first and third quarters.
The referee and each team’s captain meet at midfield for a coin toss before the game begins. The visiting team may call “heads” or “tails”; the toss winner decides whether to receive or kick off the ball, as well as which goal to defend. They can postpone their decision until the second half.
Unless the winning team chooses to defer, the losing team will receive, kick, or select a goal to defend to begin the second half. Most teams choose to receive or defer because kicking the ball first allows the opposing team to choose which goal to defend. Following the first and third quarters, teams switch goals. When a quarter ends with a down in progress, play continues until the down is completed.
Due to play stoppages, games last slightly longer than their designated length—the average NFL game lasts slightly more than three hours. The game clock keeps track of time in a football game. An operator is in charge of starting, stopping, and operating the game clock as directed by the appropriate official. A separate play clock is used to show how much time the offense has to initiate a play. The play clock is set to 25 seconds after certain administrative stoppages in play and 40 seconds when play continues uninterrupted. If the offense fails to start a play before the play clock reads “00,” the offense is called for a delay of game foul.
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