How was football invented?
There are two main theories.
One declares that football evolved throughout human history as a common foot ball kicking game. This argument focuses on just about every nation having their own form or 'brand' of football and thereby having contributed, even if in some minute way, to the games invention. No notice is given to those entrepreneurs who devised rules and marketed their particular code of football, and in doing so popularised it, whether it be soccer, rugby or American football.
The second concept likens rugby origination, from which rugby league and American football are derived, to the 'big bang' theory. Suddenly a catalyst ignited the desire and will of people to play a running and handling form of football. The focus on what this catalyst was seems to zero in on a small group of islands in the South Pacific called New Zealand. In the late 1700s Britain started to colonise these islands that were inhabited by a very healthy and virile peoples called the Maori. The Maori had their own ball sports which were radically different from any other known ball sports at the time. Early missionaries failed to comprehend the game the Maoris were playing and falsely attributed them to paganistic religious rituals! The ball sports that the Maori played, women and men, mostly on circular type fields, involved running with a flax woven ball, passing it, fending, swerving and scoring in a central zone. These ball playing skills were much admired by early British anthropologists who suggested that learning such sports would help turn their 'puny' countrymen back home in Britain into the impressive human 'specimens', with well muscled physiques, that the Maori warriors displayed. The Maoris at that time also seemed like giants to the British, being on average 3 inches taller. The intelligentsia of Britain at the time grabbed the idea and ran with it, it seemed like a magical formula to fitten and strengthen men. But they didn't want all stratas of British society to benefit, only their 'kind', the rich and their kids who went to Public Schools. Rather than attribute this revolutionary ball playing concept to 'heathen' tribes of Maori who lived in 'squalor' way across the other side of the world, they tried to combine the Maori ball handling skills with their slow and ponderous ball hacking type game. The result was a dumbing down of the Maori game, however the actual holding and running with the ball in hand proved popular and from it rugby was more or less instantly born. To try to claim 'inventing rights' the British aristocracy created the fictitious myth that a boy called William Webb Ellis picked up a ball during a soccer (foot ball) game and thereby started the rugby craze. The Maori people have always proclaimed that it was the appropriation of their ball handling skills and game techniques that led directly, like a chemical catalyst, to the creation of rugby. The Maori play their traditional ball sports today under the modern umbrella term of Ki-o-Rahi as the game rules have become generally standardised across their country. It can be very, very rough! Both sides usually perform intimidating tribal haka (war dances) before the game even starts! However there are still rules that allow for women and men to compete equally in this full contact sport - which is a very unique concept in world sports.
As the British cover up of the William Webb Ellis myth has been increasingly exposed there is much more credence, and gratitude, being paid to the Maori people as the major contributors to rugby beginnings and from it sports like American football evolving.