American football evolved from British roots but has closer relations to Rugby that to soccer (Camp, 2009). It got its name from the fact that men playing it were on foot and not on horseback (Camp, 2009). Outside of the United States, the name football mainly refers to soccer. In this case, players use their feet to play, as opposed to American football, where hands are the key limbs used in the sport.
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The distinction between American football and rugby came about with rule changes instituted to improve the game in the early part of the twentieth century (Camp, 2009). The Second World War saw the introduction of American football as a standard part of recruit training. This era saw the sport become a national unifying element. It encapsulated, in the view of some generals, all the values required of a soldier (Falk, 2005).
American football has certain elements that relate closely to American culture (Falk, 2005). America as a country came about as a melting pot of cultures because many immigrants from different parts of the world moved to the States in search of the American dream (Gems & Pfister, 2009). They came with their cultural influences and contributed to what is now a unique cultural expression.
The elements of American culture found in American football include sacrifice, hard work, courage, and equal opportunity (Falk, 2005). As a national value, America was the product of sacrifice on the part of the settlers. They left predictable lives in their native countries to pursue a dream in the new world.
This element continues up to date where many people choose to move to America to test their fortunes rather than remain in their home countries where they have sure opportunities, albeit unrewarding. They come along with a mind dedicated to hard work with the hope of seeing the reward for their efforts.
They also display a lot of courage to take this journey. In the olden days, it meant braving the rough seas. In the modern world, it means going through rigorous immigration checks to get a pass into the country. The assurance of equal opportunity for all in America drives the immigrants. Americans as a people believe in equal opportunity for all (Gems & Pfister, 2009).
The nature of the game makes it require the same elements that describe the national psyche of America. All players must be ready to sacrifice by enduring long hours of rigorous training to attain sufficient levels of fitness for play. The training and the playing are all hard work. It is one of the sports that demand the most physical and mental exertion from the players.
Every player must display courage because a clash with an opponent may end up in career-ending injuries. This is a constant risk. Finally, the sport has in its ranks Americans from all walks because teams demand only the best. This means that the only qualifier for the sport is fitness to play it, regardless of creed and color (Gems & Pfister, 2009).
In as much as American football serves as a microcosm of American culture, it is also an active part of it (Falk, 2005). The National Football League (NFL) final is truly a national event that attracts unparalleled following in the sporting arena.
It forms an important part of the American festive season and provides vast opportunities for business and social interaction. It is a high point for many in America. Local leagues in some areas provide identity to their regions such as Odessa, Texas, while the college leagues continue to command a great national following (Falk, 2005).
Camp, W. (2009). American Football. Canal Winchester OH: Badgley Publishing.
Falk, G. (2005). Football and American Identity. New York NY: Routledge.
Gems, G. S., & Pfister, G. (2009). Understanding American Sport: In Culture and Society. New York, NY: Routledge.