Football's Rules of 1876 Versus Today ($)
The previous 61 weeks saw a once-per-week article reviewing football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. This article finishes the series by summarizing key elements of the original rules and how they differ in today’s game.
Last week, we covered the last of 61 Intercollegiate Football Association's rules adopted in 1876. Unlike the rugby associations in Canada and New Zealand, who adopted England's Rugby Union rules without change, the IFA tweaked a few rules and added two to the mix. The changes were sufficiently minor that a spectator watching an American game would have difficulty identifying how the American game differed from the others. Still, the Americans continued tweaking the rules and customs yearly until the compounding effect resulted in a dramatically different game known outside the U.S. as American football or gridiron football.
The few games played in 1876 under the IFA rules bear little resemblance to today's gridiron game, though the nature of play is also unlike the Rugby Union game played in England and New Zealand today. Both rugby and gridiron football have evolved since 1876, but the changes have been more dramatic for gridiron football. To summarize the differences in the games reviewed in detail over the last 14 months, below are nine rules or concepts that exemplify the differences between then and now.