Where were you August 20, 1920? If you had been in Canton, Ohio, and if you had wandered into the Jordan and Hupmobile Auto Showroom, you might have stumbled into a meeting to organize a professional football league. Eventually, the group of seven formed the American Professional Football Conference (which became the American Professional Football Association which became the NFL). Three weeks after the APFC was formed, salary disputes and rule changes began proving that it was a) professional and b) organized. Mission accomplished.
All of which means that today is the birthday of organized professional football. You can feel free to celebrate at any time during the day.
Professional football began in the 1890s in Pennsylvania. Today it is a game played professionally in cities around the country and on many Division I college campuses. The first teams in the league were the Akron Pros, the Canton Bulldogs, the Cleveland Indians, and the Dayton Triangles. Yes, they were all Ohio teams even though the first professional team was in in Pennsylvania (the Allegheny Athletic Association). Guess how many of those teams remain?
So what have we learned?
- Professional football began August 20, 1920, except it really didn’t.
- Issues around player salaries, game attendance, and college eligibility have been around longer than football.
- Joe Neanderthal was big football fan (it was of course all amateur back then).
- It is important that the cost of 3 hot dogs at a professional football game is roughly equivalent to the annual budget for some small cities. This allows the team to pay for roughly one week of the lowest paid athlete.
- Watching football is fun.