Sunday, February 25, 2007



Early history
Throughout the history of mankind, the urge to kick at stones and other such objects is thought to have led to many early activities involving kicking and/or running with a ball. Football-like games predate recorded history in all parts of the world, and thus the earliest forms of football are not known.

Ancient games
Documented evidence of what is possibly the oldest activity resembling football can be found in a Chinese military manual written during the Han Dynasty in about the 2nd century BC. It describes a practice known as cuju, which involved kicking a leather ball through a hole in a piece of silk cloth strung between two 30 foot poles.

Kemari being played at the Tanzan Shrine, Sakurai, Japan.Another Asian ball-kicking game, which may have been influenced by cuju, is kemari. This is known to have been played within the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto from about 600 AD. In kemari several people stand in a circle and kick a ball to each other, trying not to let the ball drop to the ground (much like keepie uppie). The game appears to have died out sometime before the mid-19th century. (It was revived in 1903, and it can now be seen played for the benefit of tourists at a number of festivals.)

Mesoamerican ballgames played with rubber balls are also well-documented as existing since before this time, but these had more similarities to basketball or volleyball, and since their influence on modern football games is minimal, most do not class them as football.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have played many ball games some of which involved the use of the feet. The Roman writer Cicero describes the case of a man who was killed whilst having a shave when a ball was kicked into a barber's shop. The Roman game harpastum is believed to have been adapted from a team game known as "επισκυρος" (episkyros) or pheninda that is mentioned by Greek playwright, Antiphanes (388-311BC) and later referred to by Clement of Alexandria. These games appears to have resembled rugby.

There are a number of references to traditional, ancient, and/or prehistoric ball games, played by indigenous peoples in many different parts of the world. For example, in 1586, men from a ship commanded by an English explorer named John Davis, went ashore to play a form of football with Inuit (Eskimo) people in Greenland.[2] There are later accounts of an Inuit game played on ice, called Aqsaqtuk. Each match began with two teams facing each other in parallel lines, before attempting to kick the ball through each other team's line and then at a goal. In 1610, William Strachey of the Jamestown settlement, Virginia recorded a game played by Native Americans, called Pahsaheman. In Victoria, Australia, indigenous people played a game called Marn Grook ("ball game"). An 1878 book by Robert Brough-Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria, quotes a man called Richard Thomas as saying, in about 1841, that he had witnessed Aboriginal people playing the game: "Mr Thomas describes how the foremost player will drop kick a ball made from the skin of a possum and how other players leap into the air in order to catch it." It is widely believed that Marn Grook had an influence on the development of Australian rules football (see below).

These games and others may well go far back into antiquity and may have influenced later football games. However, the main sources of modern football codes appear to lie in western Europe, especially England.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Davis settles into starter's role

Nate Davis' first series as Ball State University's starting quarterback couldn't have been any worse.

On the team's third offensive play against Northern Illinois University, he was forced to call a timeout because of confusion with the play that had been called. However, it didn't do any good as he was sacked for a ten-yard loss following the timeout.

Since that play, Davis' nerves have been washed away in a sea of completions and touchdown passes. He's 38-of-52 for 545 yards and 5 touchdowns in his two starts, with only one interception.

Davis said the learning curve from high school to college has been tough.

"Back in high school, I was the best player [at Bellaire High School]," he said. "Everything was easy for me. Here you're just another player. The game's a lot faster. Everything's a lot quicker than high school."

The freshman has plenty of help in making the adjustment. His brother, Jose, was a three-year letter-winner at Kent State University from 1997-99. Jose Davis was a captain his final two years and holds 13 school records. Nate Davis said his brother even calls Ball State's offensive coordinator Stan Parrish to check up on Nate's progress.

"Jose has been very good with him and probably prepared him a little bit for this," Ball State coach Brady Hoke said. "The kid has been prepared his whole life to do it."

His mother, Linda, also plays a role. Nate Davis said he talks to his mom every single night. But football is usually the last thing on her mind. She wants to know about school first, and also helps him study. And then maybe if there's time, there's some discussion about football.

Another influence is the person whose position he took. Both Nate Davis and Brady Hoke have said that Joey Lynch is very supportive of Nate Davis. Lynch has been instrumental in Nate's progression of learning the Ball State offense. Nate Davis said having Lynch around is like having an additional coach to help him learn the offense.

"It just seems like we're brothers," Nate Davis said. "He's not some guy who's like, 'OK, I don't need to tell you. You don't worry about it.' He'll sit down and explain everything to me."

With the emergence of B.J. Hill at running back in last week's game against the University at Buffalo, the passing game could be expanded even more as the season progresses. A scary thought for opposing defenses, considering Nate Davis leads the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 195.20.

Of course, having a big target on the field helps to keep that rating as high as it is. And that's where Darius Hill comes into the equation. The 6-foot-7 tight end is Davis' favorite target on the field. He leads the team with 29 receptions for 551 yards and eight touchdowns. Darius Hill said Nate Davis rarely throws a bad ball and can put the ball right on the receiver's hands.

"He brings along a big dynamic because he has a cannon arm and an arm that can unleash the ball down the field at the moment you might not expect it," he said. "He'll just launch it for 50 [yards] on you."

Saturday, February 25, 2006


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