In honor of the Super Bowl being just around the corner, we thought we’d share this editorial from the 1882 Norwich student newspaper, the Reveille, extolling the virtues of the burgeoning sport known as football. Click here to read the whole editorial on our Digital Collections site (it starts in the bottom right corner of the page and continues to the next). Here’s a taste:
We believe in foot ball; we believe it ought to be encouraged; we believe the more vigorous, out door exercise a student takes the better it is for him and for the reputation of his college … and we earnestly trust that in the near future the cadets of this college many take a deeper interest in foot-ball and that ere long it may become one of the popular games of old.
It certainly has become one of the “popular games of old”! You’ll note that the sport is referred to interchangeably throughout the article as “football” and “rugby”–a vestige of the fact that American football evolved from rugby in its early years.
At the time that this article was written, football was in its extreme infancy; the first attempt to codify rules for collegiate play was in 1873, and the snap and the 11-man roster were introduced in 1880. 1882, the year of this editorial, saw the addition of the down and the use of yardage lines that made the field resemble a gridiron. It was this development that turned the corner and made football a significantly different sport from rugby.
Norwich would go on to play its first informal football game in 1890, and it formed an official team for the first time in 1893. We hope this snapshot of history has gotten you in the mood for the Super Bowl! A lot of folks here at Norwich will be rooting for our New England Patriots!
Information about the history of football from the Professional Football Researchers Association.