Saturday, December 28, 2013

28 December 1911 - The Beautiful Game Goes To College

On 28 December 1911, the NCAA officially recognized association football as an approved college sport in the United States.

Established in 1906, the National Collegiate Athletic Association organizes and enforces the rules and regulations of its member schools. While there are currently over 1,000 such members, there were 92 in December 1911, when the organization's Rules Committee met at the Hotel Astor in New York City to consider making changes to the rules for gridiron football.

While they ultimately decided against any changes for that sport, several representatives took the opportunity to advocate for association football, including Dr. James Babbitt of Haverford College (pictured), who "told about the great popularity of the game around Philadelphia" and "praised the game highly, saying that it was a sport in which boys and men take a great delight because they all could play it without having any special athletic talent."

Upon the urging of Dr. Babbitt and several others, the NCAA appointed a new committee "to take up the game and advocate its institution at all schools and colleges." In addition to Dr. Babbitt, the committee included William Garcelon of Harvard, Dr. Page of Andover, H.E. Ford of Washington and Jefferson, and James Naismith of Kansas, the inventor of basketball.

The game eventually took root at the collegiate level and in 1959 the NCAA started a national championship tournament.

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