Forget his role in building the Panama Canal or his responsibility for America’s emergence as a world superpower with our victory in the Spanish-American War.
Teddy Roosevelt is the reason America has football.
In most other countries around the globe, “football” is soccer, the world’s most popular sport. However, in America, it evolved from a controversial, injury-ridden corruption of rugby — where renegade players threw the ball forward, contrary to the rules.
And President Theodore Roosevelt deserves the credit.
The Republican was an avid supporter – one author says savior – of the sport of American football.
Even today other countries watch the game in bewilderment. It has been described as soccer in slow motion played by giants using a mishapen ball that won’t roll — a purely American game in which players wearing armor that makes their shoulders appear five-feet-wide — must stop and have a committee meeting everytime the ball or ball-carrier’s body touches the ground.
In his book, The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football, John J. Miller documents Roosevelt’s role in transforming football.
Roosevelt, who grew up a sickly child, associated athletics with fitness and conquering his illness, believed all Americans — especially American boys — should engage in sports.
“He thought rough sports were a positive social good because they taught all kinds of lessons about life that you can’t learn from a book, from a classroom,” Miller said during a recent interview.