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Friday, November 12, 2010

Do you know the first Professional in Football's history ???

Tiger Woods (Golf), Michael Schumacher (Formula 1), Shaquille O'Neal Miami Heat (NBA), Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) – are amongst the top earning sportspersons of the World.  They earn far higher than our Sachin and Dhoni and others in cricket, yet people cry hoarse that too much of money is pumped into cricket.   Do you know when did the first footballer turned professional and how much was his earning at that stage ??????

The way games are played have changed totally as compared to olden times.  Pro sports as opposed to amateur ones are sports where athletes receive payment for their performance.  There are many professional circuits which include Auto racing, Baseball, basketball, hockey, football, Golf, Tennis, squash  to quote a few.  The electronic media and advertising ensure larger audiences as also huge income – the games are big money spinners. 

Professional golfer Tiger Woods has been off his game since his extramarital affairs were exposed last year, but he is still the world's highest earning athlete.   Woods topped Forbes magazine's 2010 list of the top 50 earning athletes in the world at $ 105 million, down 4.5 percent from last year as the star golfer has lost such sponsors as Accenture and AT&T. It was the ninth consecutive year he topped the Forbes list.

Football (or soccer as it is known in some parts) is a popular sport enjoyed across many cultures and countries with over 240 million registered players and billions of fans.  The World Cup is the most watched event worldwide.   In 2009  Britain's Premier League and its clubs last weekend backed an hunger initiative that would have given football fans across the globe food for thought. The Premier League helped highlight the plight of world hunger by linking up with other top European Leagues and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).  Millions were involved in the first ever Europe-wide football weekend against hunger being held in Mar 2009.  It was aimed at raising awareness about the need to fight hunger and poverty. 

There exists Sports leagues where teams and players are registered and paid to play.  Our IPL (Indian Premier League) is a classic example of a cricketing venture in the traditions of football.  In US & Canada, the term pro football includes the  professional forms of American and Canadian gridiron football.  Of the multiple leagues the best known are National Football league (NFL) and Canadian Football league (CFL)

Reportedly there exists not much of layers as it is in India.  In India for Cricket, when representing the Nation, the players get selected by Board of Cricket Control for India (BCCI).  The game is so well organised.  There are Zonal level (North, South, West, East and Central); the State level; University level.  At State level, in Chennai there is League in which there are 5 divisions – in the top division there are generally 12 teams vying for top honours and the present one includes Grandslam, Jollyrovers, Globetrotters, Vijay cc, India Pistons, Aruna CC, Parry’s cc, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Young Star, Southern Railway and UFCC. 

Over there, Professional football is considered the highest level of competition in gridiron football. Whereas most of the other major sports leagues draw their players from the minor leagues, the NFL currently draws almost all of its players directly from college football. College football, in turn, recruits players from high school football, with most potential stars receiving scholarships to play. The Canadian Football League has a special requirement that a minimum of half of each team's roster (currently 21 out of 42 players) be composed of Canadian citizens.

The first to play football professionally is considered to be  William "Pudge" Walter Heffelfinger (December 20, 1867, Minneapolis, Minnesota - April 2, 1954, Blessing, Texas) .  Heffelfinger, a three-time All-American, played for Walter Camp at Yale University in 1889, 1890, and 1891.  He then played amateur football for the Chicago Athletic Association (for which he was compensated with "double expenses," as was a common practice at the time).   Records have it that on  November 12, 1892, Heffelfinger was paid $25 for his expenses and a bonus of $500 (far above and beyond even double his expenses) by the Allegheny Athletic Association to play in a game against the rival Pittsburgh Athletic Club. The game was played at Recreation Park, which was located on Pittsburgh's north shore. The game eneded in a 4-0 Allgheny win.

The game those days was largely a matter of brute force.  Pudge made a place for himself then.  He was the star of Yale and helped them crush Princeton and Harvard.  At 23, he weighted 204 pounds, 6 ft. 2¾ in. tall and wore a size 10 shoe.
For sometime, wrongly,  John Brallier was considered the first pro.  But documentary evidence, a 49 page manuscript proved otherwise.  This was the first time a player was known to be given money to play a game.   In 1893, he coached the University of California and launched a business career.  In 1916, at age 49, he scrimmaged against the Yale varsity and in 1920, at age 53, he played 50 minutes for the East All-Stars against the Ohio State All-Stars at Columbus, Ohio. In 1930, age 63, he made his final appearance in a football uniform in an all-star game at Minneapolis. He was inducted as a charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 and recognition in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 1963. 

Regards – S Sampathkumar.

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