The NFL, one of the best-attended sports leagues in the world, features 32 franchises looking to go all the way to win the Super Bowl trophy, and as the best-known (and possibly one of the only) leagues for american football (a sport which incidentally, excluding one or two specific players on a team, does not use the foot) take to drawn-out battle, some people may ask the question: who invented this league?
The NFL (National Football League) was originally formed in 1920 (as the American Professional Football Confrence (APFC), the name would change to NFL two years on) by a collection of local professional teams across the country looking to play in an organised format and for a champion to be found each year. The league would expand and develop over the next few decades. In the 1960’s the NFL was in competition with rival league the AFC, but after several contract disputes the two organisations decided to merge in 1966, with the teams all under the same league, which keep the NFL name and basic rules, but introduced several of the AFC’s innovations (mostly cosmetic). The next year, the first championship game was played, and named the Super Bowl, with the annual fixture, and the league, being the clear strongest in its sport ever since.
Today, the NFL is the most popular of the top 4 American sports leagues in terms of average spectator numbers, and although it is only really popular in the USA, the annual Super Bowl event still manages to attract a global television audience of over 100 million.
NFL players are generally seen as having to only do very short bursts of activity (with much longer breaks) due to the nature of the sport, but there can be some huge hits and tackles in the NFL from both offence and defence during their attempts to win. Below is a video of some of the big hits involved when the action does comes around in american football.
The trampoline is a device that is used around the world both for entertainment and for sport, but who was first to arrive on the scene with this springy product?
In 1936, two Americans, George Nissen and Larry Griswold, who were both athletes representing the University of Iowa (in diving (Nissen), and gymnastics (both)), decided to create a ‘rebounding’ object that would allow for enhanced training and more entertainment in sport, after seeing a circus trapeze act use a tight net for a more entertaining and flowing show. Nissen and Griswold would realise that their product could provide more than one ‘rebound’, provided that it was used correctly (jumping). They would tour their product, named after the Spanish word for ‘diving board’ (trampoline), and eventually started selling them commercially in 1942, with the new product even being used in training for astronauts. The modern trampoline is now made with a mesh canvas/polypropylene surface attached to springs at the side to provide the ‘rebound’ effect.
Nowadays, alongside being produced for competitive ‘trampoline gymnastics‘ competitions (including at the Olympic Games), and being used as training methods for other sports, trampolines have been sold for home use, meaning that the thrill of bouncing can now be a few steps away in your back garden. With a variety of styles, and improving saftey measures to combat the obvious risk involved, it is fair to say that Nissen & Griswold’s product has really ‘taken off’.
With the popularity of home-use trampolines reaching new ‘highs’, it is inevitable that users will try and expand their use, and attempt to create different ‘moves’ or styles. Sometimes, though, to the delight of home video clip shows, this does not go to plan…
A fairly new sport which is not fully established on the world stage yet, Bossaball is an intriguing mixture of volleyball, trampolining, football, and samba music. Who was the professor who constructed this bizarre formula?
Bossaball has a very young existance compared to other, more established sports, having only come into existence in 2003 as a concept by Belgian Filip Eyckmans, who would release his game in Spain in 2005. Quite how he imagined this sport is unclear, as it is played on an inflatable surface (similar to a bouncy castle) by two teams of 3-5, with an intergrated trampoline on either side of a volleyball net to allow for a team member to go up for a very high ‘spike’. Serving the ball is often done by foot, and the ball can be met by any body part, with the game usually played with samba music in the background. The main aim of the game is to have the ball land on the opponent’s side of the court (like in volleyball), with 1 point awarded for landing on the inflatable area, and 3 for hitting the trampoline first. The team that reaches 25 points first is declared the winner.
Bossaball is still in its infancy, though, and clubs have currently only seem to have been set up in 12 nations (Belgium, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Holland, Kuwait, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Romania, Turkey and Ecuador), but the sport does seem to be expanding (proof of which is the running of the annual Bossaball World Cup), and due to its fun, different, and pary-style nature, it seems to have the potential to become a more popular game.
Below is a video demonstrating the game of Bossaball:
Boxing hasn’t ever been seen as a safe sport, and even more so in the periods in history when the use of a boxing glove was uncommon for a person who wanted an organised fistfight. But when were they invented?
The boxing glove, in its earliest form, were basic ‘hand protectors’ for the then-new game of boxing, created as far back as the Ancient Greek times of 3000 years ago, and it was Amycus, son of the God Poseidon, who was credited with the innovation of wrapping leather around fighter’s hands, made to protect the person throwing the punch more than the one on the receiving end, a theory that is employed to this day with modern boxing gloves, as a punch can still hurt the person applying the force.
The Greek invention was expanded on by the Romans, who, always looking for ways to make weapons more painful than normal, added a layer of metal under their version of the glove (the gladiatorial cestus), although it was soon banned, with the sport of boxing also outlawed a few centuries later.
The sport of boxing would make a comeback in 17th century Britain, but almost all fights would be bare-knuckle, until the publication of the Marquess of Queensbury Rules (which are still followed today) in 1867. English bare-knuckle fighter Jack Broughton is credited with the invention of the modern-day version of the boxing glove (then known as a pair of ‘mufflers’) in the late 18th century, and the basic design has been brought forward with the sport as it developed. Nowadays, if you want a legal and official boxing fight, a pair of boxing gloves must be worn, though there is criticism that the padded gloves do nothing other than change the type of damage that could be caused (the most common of these is brain damage over cuts and wounds), but is still seen as a more acceptable alternative to fighting ‘naturally’.
For proof that boxing can be dangerous no matter what you have on your hands, here is a compilation of some of the most famous (and painful) professional boxing knockouts in history. Don’t try this at home!