Football = foot + ball. How could a word so simple be so ambiguous? One could only imagine the word football to mean usage of the feet to maneuver some sort of ball. And this is true, in one type of “football” - European football. Football played all over Europe involves people literally kicking a ball with their feet into a net. But when referring to football in America, the game has nothing to do with kicking, or even feet. American football is actually a game with primary focus on throwing, catching carrying the ball with the hands. In the world of sports, the biggest culture shock when you cross over the pond is the relative popularity of European football rather then that of American football.
Football, the name given to both of these games, would never have been called football if it weren't for the early days when the sports first originated. American football resulted from several major divergences from the European game of rugby in the late 1800‘s. This American game could just as easily have been called American rugby, but because everyone elsewhere was calling it “football”, the name stuck. Besides, in those days, the game was more more kicking orientated. It was only when the forward pass was legalized and kicks were limited to those taken from behind the line of scrimmage that the feet began to play a less prominent role in the American game. Professional American football began in 1892. In 1920, the American Professional Association was formed, but changed its name to the National Football League (NFL) two years later. On the contrary, European football was born in England in 1863, when eleven private clubs and schools met at London’s Freemason’s Tavern and agreed to come up with rules for a game that would differ from rugby, strictly by not permitting the use of the hands. This game of “football” quickly spread from England to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, all of which had organized football associations in place by 1880.
Even though they hold the same name, and began in the same era, people everywhere view American football and European football as two completely different sports. Both of these sports, each being the most popular within their respective origin, attract millions of viewers all around the world. There are Europeans who love American football, and there are Americans who are die hard European soccer fans. American and European football share several similarities in the rules, terminology, strategy, and competitiveness of the game. But, they also have an even greater number of differences, including the usage of hands, number of players, scoring tactics, field size, game time and much more.
To begin, the breakdown of the major football organizations is done completely different. The largest, and most popular football organization in the United States is the National Football League, better known as the NFL. The NFL is then broken into two different conferences. They are the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conferences (NFC). Both the AFC and the NFC each currently contain 16 teams each. These 16 teams are then broken into smaller divisions, each with four teams: the AFC/NFC East, North, South and West.
The largest, and most popular football organization in England is the English Premier League. The Premier League is at the very top of the English football league system, and is the country’s primary football competition. Unlike the NFL, the Premier League does not have any smaller conferences within the league. The Premier league is simply made up of 20 different clubs. The Premier League operates on a system of promotion and relegation. This means that every year, the bottom 3 finishers are relegated from the Premier League, to the division below, which is called the Championship. Those 3 teams are then replaced in the Premier League for the next season by 3 of the best teams from the Championship.