Since the 1990s, football has surpassed
baseball as the most popular spectator sport in the U.S. The 32-team
National Football League (NFL) is the most popular professional league.
Its championship game, the Super Bowl, is watched by nearly half
of US television households, and is also televised in over 150 other
countries. Super Bowl Sunday has become an annual ritual in late
January or early February. Additionally, top players in the league
are selected to play an annual all-star game, the Pro Bowl, in Honolulu.
College football is also popular, with many major colleges and
universities playing NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
Division I football, and consistently selling out huge stadiums.
College games are widely televised and widely watched. Many institutions
in lower NCAA divisions and the National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics (NAIA) also field varsity football teams, as do most
high schools. High school football is popular in many parts of
the US, notably the South, with games sometimes attracting tens
of thousands of fans.
In addition, football is played by amateur, club
and youth teams (such as teams in the Pop Warner leagues).
There is an American
Football World Cup. In addition, there are many "semi-pro" teams,
where the players are paid to play, but at a small enough salary
that they generally must also hold a full-time job.
Football Leagues – Professional,
College, and Other Leagues
Football is played at a number of levels in the United States and
abroad. These include the following:
National Football League - top-level men's professional
Canadian Football League - men's professional league based
in Canada, played using a modified set of rules known as
American football - since 2000, there has been a surge
of women's professional leagues.
football - an indoor adaptation of professional football,
played at a faster
pace, on a smaller field
football - played by many US colleges
school football - played by most high schools
football, Eight-man football, and Six-man football -
variations of high school football, usually played in sparsely
and youth league football
football and Touch football - non-tackle; almost exclusively
warner or youth football - involves younger kids who are
too young to play high school, generally in
The descriptions in this article are based primarily on the current
rules of the National Football League (NFL, 1920-present). Differences
with college rules will be noted. Professional, college, high school,
and amateur rules are similar.
Professional leagues that no longer exist include
the World Football League (WFL, 1974-75), the United States
1983-1985), the XFL (XFL, 2001), the All-America Football Conference
(1946-1949) (only 3 or 4 teams are now in NFL), the World League
of American Football (WLAF, 1991-1993 — now NFL Europe),
and, the American Football League (AFL, 1960-1969). Only the
AFL survives, as it merged with the NFL in 1970 and now exists
as the AFC.
article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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