How the Football Field Was Designed

Have you ever wondered how the American football field came to be the way it is? I didn't, either, but the way it evolved from the soccer and rugby fields it was based on is more interesting than I expected.

The origin of American football is surprisingly complex, but here’s the abridged version: professional football was formally organized in 1920, from loosely affiliated professional organizations that evolved out of college football, which was born out of rugby, which, of course, has its origins in soccer – also known as football to everyone else in the world. While American football bears little resemblance to these earlier games, the fields are vaguely similar large, green rectangles that connote their shared history. However, American football is unique in that the field exists independently of the ball. That is to say, the field does not need to be a perfectly flat or consistent surface in order to accommodate the rolls or bounces of a ball. Football is a battle for territory as much as points, and so the field primarily serves as a way to measure the progress of this battle. And it also cushions tackles. Well, it mostly cushions tackles – but more on that in a minute.

The basic field design has been tweaked and changed over the years, with the biggest change being the introduction of AstroTurf. Read all about it at Design Decoded. Link

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