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Walter Camp: "The Father of Football"

Updated on May 17, 2020

Yale Football 1904

1904 Yale Cover
1904 Yale Cover | Source
Early Football
Early Football

Walter Camp and his Illusterous Contributations

Born in 1859 to Leverett Camp and Ellen Sophia Cornwell in Connecticut, he went on to enroll at Yale University. Camp graduated Yale in 1880 and quickly began Yale Medical School. Finding he couldn't stand the sight of blood, he dropped out and began work at New Haven Clock Company. Working hard he rose to the position as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In 1888 he married Alice Graham Summer and together they had two children, Walter Camp, Jr. and daughter Janet Camp Troxell.

Over the years Camp wrote over 30 books and over 200 articles on sports in magazines such as Harper's Weekly, Colliers, Outing, and The Independent. His first book, The Book of Foot-Ball was published in 1910.

Camp was an apostle of physical fitness. Men who learned under him went on to be some of the first and best football coaches. They were Frank Cole, Penn University, John Crowell, Duke University, Henry Williams, West Point, and Tom Clung, California.

Camp became an advisor to the U.S. military devising a program known as the "daily dozen set-up".

While attending the 1925 Rules Committee Meeting, Camp suffered a heart attack in the boardroom and died.

Yale Football Stadium

Yale Stadium
Yale Stadium

Camp's Career

Playing Career

1876-1881 Yale University

Coaching Career

1888-1892 Yale University

1892, 1894-95 Stanford University

Three National Championships

1888, 1891, 1892

1880 U.S. College Football Rules Convention Changes

1. Instead of contested scrimmages, replace with "line of scrimmage"

2. He introduced the snap-back from the center

3. He introduced the system of downs

4. He introduced the placing of offensive players, seven-man line with four-man backfield

5. He introduced the position of "safety"

6. He introduced the two-point system to the defensive side for tackling in his own side

In reality, one could say Camp reconstructed the game from rugby to American football.

Football Awards

Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
Walter Camp Award
Walter Camp Award

Football Awards

Each year, the Walter Camp Award is given to the collegiate football "player of the year". The famous Heisman Trophy, named after John Heisman said of Walter Camp, "Wat Washington was to this country, Camp was to American football, the friend, the founder, and the father.

A Few Firsts in Football

1890 First Army vs. Navy football game

1893 First use of football helmet

1895 First football forward pass

1897 First Ohio vs. Michigan game

1902 First football bowl game

1939 First televised football game

1941 First use of penalty flag

Walter Camp and Spalding

Camp and the Spalding Company had a long business relationship. Spalding began to utilize Camp's many ideas regarding equipment, and innovations of marketing for players. Camp believed in brains over brawn and psychology on the field. He was a well of wisdom. His advice was sought by players, coaches, athletic directors, and business.

Walter Camp Marker

Walter Camp Marker
Walter Camp Marker | Source

Comments

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    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      14 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thanks for reading. Yes, he did advocate for changes and fortunately, he was heard.

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      14 months ago

      Nice to know about Walter Camp, the father of football. Glad to find out that he changed some rules of the game for the better and is a pioneer figure of the game. Thanks for sharing, Fran.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      14 months ago from UK

      I thought the name was unfamiliar. Then I realised that I was thinking of English football! I have learnt a lot about the origins of American football from this article.

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