(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Football fans unite! February 4 is Super Bowl Sunday — the day when the annual championship for the National Football League (NFL) is played. This year, the New England Patriots will take on the Philadelphia Eagles. Before kickoff, check out these fun facts about the sport.
Football games like this one from 1949 have Canada to thank for how they play the game. (Keystone/Getty Images)
Football is closely related to two English sports: soccer and rugby. It got its start at North American schools in the 1800s. But you can thank Canada for some of football’s rules! A game of rugby was being played between a Canadian university and an American one. The Canadians’ rules involved using an oval ball instead of a round one and making tackles. The American coach took note of these rules and eventually they became a part of American football.
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The huddle — which is the moment in a game when teammates quickly gather together before a play — was invented by a quarterback named Paul Hubbard in the 1890s. Hubbard was a deaf player for a university in Washington. He noticed during a game that his sign language could be read by opposing players, so he began the huddle to keep his signals a secret. And the huddle was born!
A leather football from 1932.
A football is often called a pigskin. And no wonder — in the early days of the sport, players tossed around an inflated pig bladder. That’s because the bladders kept their shape and made for a perfect ball. These “balls” were eventually covered with a leather skin. Finally, in the late 1800s, rubber was introduced to make the football, but the name “pigskin” stuck around.
As for the odd shape of the football? That’s partly because of the inflated pig bladders used originally, but also because later footballs were still so difficult to inflate and didn’t really hold air. During the game, the ball ended up looking more like an oval. But everyone got used to that shape, so the football’s odd shape remained.
The NFL logo in the endzone of the 2005 Super Bowl — scroll down to find out what "endzone" means! (Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
The NFL formed in 1920 and included 10 teams. Today, there are 32 teams in the league. The Super Bowl first took place in 1967. Since then, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won the most Super Bowls with six championships. That’s followed by the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers who have each won five.
(Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Players in the NFL were not required to wear a helmet on the field until 1943. Before this, players often grew long hair because they thought this would protect their head.
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Vince Lombardi trophy, which is named after an NFL coach, is awarded to the winning team of the Super Bowl. A new trophy is made each year and takes about four months to create. It’s made of sterling silver and is valued at $50,000.
Want to be in the know for Super Bowl Sunday? Here’s a quick look at some basic football terms.
End zone: The area at the end of a football field where points are scored beyond the goal line.
Field goal: When the kicker kicks the football above the crossbar and between the uprights of the goalpost. It counts for three points.
The football needs to be kicked through the yellow bars above, known as a goalpost, for a field goal. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Fumble: When a football player drops the football. Once this happens, the ball is available for any other player to grab.
Huddle: When the players on the field come together to figure out their strategy between plays.
Interception: When a pass from a quarterback is caught by a player on the opposing team.
Tackle: When a football player stops another player from carrying the ball. This is usually done by grabbing the player and forcing them to the ground.
Touchdown: When a player has control of the football within the end zone. This results in scoring six points. After a team has scored a touchdown, they have a chance to kick an “extra point” to nab one more point.