A Brief History Of Football: Then Until Now

It’s a running joke that we’ll be watching flag football in fifty years instead of what we watch today as each generation seems to soften, but that joke begs the question: How has football evolved over the years? Where did it begin and how did it gain popularity? Has it always been played professionally? We’ll answer a few of the most common questions regarding the history of one of the most popular sports in the country.

The first football-like game was played in the U.S. on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The rules were different from those we know today, but were developed by the London Football Association. Football is a hybrid of the popular English sports soccer and rugby. Football isn’t even the right terminology. “Gridiron” football found its name due to the vertical yard lines on the field.

Of course, that all gives the very wrong impression that England is responsible for soccer, if soccer is indeed one of the original ingredients of American football. The Chinese played something similar over the preceding centuries. The English adaptation of games that evolved over time was called football because it wasn’t played on horseback, like other popular games in the 19th century. The rules back then didn’t resemble soccer OR the football we know and love today.

The concept of organization and opposing goalkeeping originated in Scotland in the 20th century, long after the original games were invented. The new style didn’t make its way to Europe until the 1920s, which means, you guessed it: the football-like game first played in New Jersey in 1869 was also very different and lacked rules with which we’re familiar.

This is part of the reason that the European “football” (soccer) and American football grew to become so very different. Our version became popular very quickly. Harvard and Yale played their first collegiate game in 1875. Walter Camp was a student at Yale from 1876 to 1881, and he helped introduce new rules: such as an 11-man team. He was also responsible for giving us a quarterback, signal-calling, scoring, and the line of scrimmage. The rest is history!

The Worst NFL Logos of All Time

While there has been some major controversy over the Washington Red Skins, their name, and logo, there have been some major travesties over the years. Some of the logos that used to exist within the NFL, according to Navarrete and Schwartz are offensive as well as just plain ugly. Here are some of the worst defenders.

New York Saints Cartoon

From the years 1967 to 1984, this was the logo of the New Orlean Saints.  Currently, the logo of the Saints is a fleur-de-lis as pictured on this cartoon character’s shield. He appears to be some sort of knight but he isn’t really playing football or doing anything threatening. Good thing they retired this logo.

Houston Oilers Logo 

This logo was used from 1961 to 1968. The team is now the Tennessee Titans who also have a less than desired logo. But this logo is well, nothing more than an oil rig.  Who wants to wear an oil rig on the side of their head? We are glad that the team decided to move and change names.

The Dolphins Ray of Sunshine 

This current logo of the Miami Dolphins which has been used since 2013 is a travesty. We know that Florida is the sunshine state but why does Miami need to have it in their logo? This looks like a flying dolphin too close to the sun. Now all I can picture is this poor Dolphin dying because he’s not near any water.

What do you think? Do you have any logos that you think of jacked up?

NFL: All The Arrests Made in 2018 So Far

The NFL is notorious for their players having lots of legal troubles. However, based on a report by USA Today, the number of arrests in 2018 alone are staggering. Here’s a break down of all the NFL arrests from January to August.

January – 6 arrests 

1/3/18 – T.J. Ward a Safety on TB was arrested on a drug charge. He was accused of marijuana possession based on a warrant from October of 2017. Not resolved.

1/12/18 – Reuben Foster a Linebacker on SF was arrested on a drug charge. He was accused of marijuana possession. Must participate in diversion program including drug testing and education.

1/14/18 – Carlos Henderson a Wide Receiver on DEN was arrested on a drug charge. He was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for speeding and was accused of marijuana possession. Not resolved.

1/14/18 – Jeremy Lane a Corner Back on SEA was arrested for DUI. He was pulled over for suspected drunk driving. Lane claims his blood alcohol level was .03 under the legal limit. Plead guilty to reckless driving, sentence suspended, two days of work crew.

1/19/18 – Robby Anderson a Wide Reciever on NYJ was arrested for eluding police. He was accused of reckless driving, resisting arrest, fleeing police and threatening a police officer’s family. He pled no contest to reckless driving and is serving six months probation.

1/25/18 – Marion Humphrey a Corner Back on BAL was arrested on a robbery charge. He is accused of stealing a $15 phone charger from his uber driver. Not resolved.

February – 2 arrests 

2/11/18 – Reuber Foster (the same as before) was arrested on a domestic violence charge. He was accused of domestic violence, possession of an assault rifle and making criminal threats. He pled no contest to weapons charge and sentenced to 232 hours of community service. The domestic violence charge was dropped.

2/26 – Dylan Donahue a Linebacker on NYJ was arrested on a DUI. He was accused of drunk driving, driving the wrong way on the Lincoln Tunnel and crashing into a bus. Blood alcohol level was 0.15 almost twice the legal limit. He pled guilty and had his license suspended. He is enrolled in an education program.

March – 5 arrests 

3/3/18 – Aidon Smith a Linebacker on OAK has a warrant for his arrest for domestic violence. He was accused of domestic violence and fleeing the scene of the crime. Not resolved. OAK cut him from the team two days later.

3/7/18 – Adam Gotsis a Defense End on DEN was arrested for sexual assault. He was accused of rape dating back to 2013 when Gotsis was a student at Georgia Tech. Not resolved.

3/19/18 – Zay Jones a Wide Reciever on BUF was arrested for vandalism. He was accused of breaking a glass window during a heated argument with his brother. The charges were eventually dropped by prosecutors.

3/23/18 – Duron Harmon a Safety on NE was arrested on a drug charge. He was accused of carrying 58 grams of marijuana inside his iced tea. Not resolved.

3/23/18 – Michael Bennett a Defense End for SEA was arrested and being brought up on charges for injuring an elderly security worker at the Super Bowl in 2017. Not resolved.

April – 2 arrests 

4/15/18 – Daryl Worley a Corner Back on PHI was arrested for DUI. He was accused of resisting arrest, being unconscious in his car on the highway and carrying a gun without a permit. Not resolved. He was released by PHI hours later.

4/15/18 – Trevor Davis a Wide Receiver on GB was arrested because he was an alleged bomb threat. He was accused of talking about explosives when checking into a flight in Los Angeles. The case was dropped by prosecutors.

May – 3 arrests 

5/2/18 – Robby Anderson (same as above) had a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly missing his court appearance regarding the incident above in January. The warrant was dropped due to a clerical error.

5/19/18 – Terrance Williams a Wide Receiver on DAL was arrested for public intoxication. Police found his Lamborghini abandoned, crashed into a pole. He is currently in a diversion program about alcohol awareness and paid restitution.

5/19/18 – Antwione Williams a Line Backer for MIN was arrested for a DUI. He was pulled over for speeding and was suspected of drunk driving. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor and is serving one year of probation.

June – 2 arrests 

6/2/18 – Chris Herndon a Tight End on NYJ was arrested for a DUI. He was suspected of driving intoxicated after he crashed his car. Not resolved.

6/15/18 – Marquez White a Corner Back on DAl was arrested on an assault charge. He was accused on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in a road rage accident. Not resolved.

July – 1 arrests 

7/14/18 – Ricky Seals-Jones a Tight End on ARI was arrested on an assault charge. He was accused of assault a hotel staffer in order to use the restroom. Not resolved.

August – 3 arrests 

8/5/18 – Antonio Callaway a Wide Receiver on CLE was arrested on a drug charge. He was pulled over for a traffic violation and accused of possessing marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Not resolved.

8/28/18 – Cayleb Jones a Wide Receiver on MIN was arrested for domestic violence. He is suspected of domestic violence, interfering with a 911 call and theft. Not resolved.

8/31/18 – Rico Gathers a Tight End on DAL was arrested on a drug charge. He was suspected of marijuana possession. Not resolved.

Grand total: 24 arrests. 

Brooks Koepka Defends His U.S. Open Title

At first glance, you would like Brooks Koepka was a professional hockey player who was looking to shoot a few holes on his day off. This former basketball and baseball player, who openly admitted that he teased the golf team in high school, became the first man since Curtis Stone in 1989 to win back to back U.S. Opens.

Koepka, a child of the Tiger Woods era, proved that golfers are more than just prep school nerds and are true athletes. He took up golf after an injury sidelined him from playing baseball at his high school. He became successful in Europe which led him to win his first U.S. Open last year. However, he was sidelined from golf with a wrist injury which prevented him from competing in the Masters. Depressed from being injured, he sat and watch golf at home and wondered why none of his golf colleagues texted him (other than Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson). He worked hard and felt determined to make his big appearance at this years U.S. Open. And boy did he!

Round 4 he was paired with his good friend and former roommate Johnson. Johnson had a disastrous round 3 shooting 77. Koepka never lost his cool. He birdied the par 5 16h hole and managed to only bogey on the last hole preventing a playoff with Fleetwood (who shot an incredible 63 in Round 4).

Koepka is the first in hopefully a long line to show that golf is indeed a real sport and athletes are the future.

This March Madness Could Be Historic!

Now that March Madness has been officially reduced to its iconic Final Four, let’s let the smoke clear and see exactly what happened over the course of the past two weeks. Out of each of the four regions in which the original 64 teams to make ‘the dance’ are organized, number 1 seeds Villanova University Wildcats and University of Kansas Jayhawks prevailed in the East and Midwest respectively, while the number 3 seed University of Michigan Wolverines survived the West region’s bracket. And that’s about where the normal and unexpected comes to an end.

For those of you that don’t follow March Madness or tournament format sports in general, bracket prediction is the general basis under which people gamble for the NCAA tournament, essentially predicting the winners of each of the games based on a number of variables, not the least of which includes seeding – ranking within the bracket itself. To have a general balance of competition throughout the upper echelons of the tournament, lower seeded teams face off against higher seeded teams in the early rounds – and thus are usually removed from contention almost immediately due to the higher caliber teams that earned the higher seeds. Sometimes the way it plays out is higher seeded teams coast through the early rounds to get to the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8, ultimately working toward the Final Four and the national championship itself. Take Villanova for example. They started the tournament as the number 1 seed in their region against the number 16 seeded Radford University Highlanders (in case you’ve never heard of them, they’re in Virginia), beating them handily. Three games later, the competition got a little more stiff as they went through the number 9 seed Alabama Crimson Tide, the number 5 seed West Virginia Mountaineers, and the number 3 seed Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kansas followed a similar path, as did Michigan.

And sometimes you have what many begrudgingly refer to as a “bracket buster.” That one team that, despite all odds against them, ruins most of the fun for gamblers by throwing a huge wrench in the works and beats the teams that it’s expected to lose against in the early rounds.

Queue the Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers out of Chicago, Illinois. While they began the tournament nearer the middle of the pack than some, they were still a number 11 seed in their region facing off against the number 5 seed Miami University Hurricane…whom they beat, 64-62. And while this may not have turned as many heads as the number 16 University of Maryland Baltimore County upset over number 1 Virginia in the first round, the historic run of UMBC was cut down only a game later while Loyola persevered against number 3 Tennessee, then against number 7 Nevada and finally against number 9 Kansas State – winning its first three games by a combined total of 4 points before comfortably clearing the Elite 8 by a score of 78-62.

Now Loyola is primed to face number 3 Michigan in the Final Four round to see who gets to punch a ticket to the national championship.

So what does this all mean? What is the point I’m trying to make by praising this Cinderella story that may or may not turn back into a pumpkin when the clock strikes midnight? Historically speaking, no team that was seeded lower than 8 has ever won the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. The lowest seeded team to accomplish that feat was the Southeast’s number 8 seeded 1985 Villanova Wildcats who defeated the East region’s number 1 seeded Georgetown Hoyas. Strangely enough, that same Villanova team struggled through its first three games, winning them only by a combined 9 points, before defeating the number 2 North Carolina Tar Heels by 12 in the Elite 8.

Coincidence? Probably. But Loyola has gotten this far, haven’t they? Time to see if the glass slipper fits.

Will Tom Brady Ever Age?

Even though he is in his 40s, and is by far the oldest player in the NFL, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is showing no signs of slowing down.

After winning his 5th Super Bowl in a truly heroic fashion, Brady has once again taken the league by storm in 2017. A clear frontrunner for the NFL MVP 11 weeks into the season, Brady is flexing muscles that usually deteriorate at his age.

The thing about Brady is that he is not only a great talent, he keeps his body in tip-top shape with his exhaustive diet and exercise regimen. His body is by no means in the shape of a 40+ year old man who spent his whole life getting tackled for a living.

While Brady is a champion in every meaning of the word, he owes a lot of his success to head coach Bill Belichick. The two have been a simply dominant combination in the NFL over the last 18 years, failing to make the playoffs just once (and that was because Brady was injured in the first game of the season).

The Patriots have enough faith in his body holding up that they decided to trade both of their backup quarterbacks this season, leaving them with little to no backup plan in the event Brady gets injured.

Because of his dedication to his craft in the later stages of his career, Brady is nothing short of a true champion in every sense of the word. Brady spends all of his time trying to make himself better and to help his team win, and it has shown on the field at every level

Championship Subdivision News is dedicated to showing the true champions of every sport, and Tom Brady is the exact kind of champion that we love to display day in and day out. The Patriots are well on their way to another long playoff run this year and in the years to come, thanks to Brady’s champion mindset and preparation.

Biggest Comebacks in Super Bowl History

Professional American football has been in existence since 1920, nearly 100 years ago, when the formation of the APFA (American Professional Football Association) came to be in Canton, Ohio, later known as the National Football League. The Super Bowl – the championship game of the NFL – significantly shorter. The very first Super Bowl was played as a result of the later formation of the AFL (American Football League). Due to a national competition over bringing players into the league, the NFL and AFL were in contention with each other since the advent of the AFL in 1960. Eventually, the two leagues challenged each other in what the late Lamar Hunt, founder of the AFL and owner of the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs, would jokingly call the Super Bowl. Initially dominated by the NFL-representing Green Bay Packers, the AFL made up its ground in the following two years to show they were a competent football league by comparison. In 1970, following Super Bowl IV, the AFL-NFL merger had come to fruition, forming one larger National Football League.

These days, the excitement surrounding the Super Bowl is unparalleled. Featuring pre-game media availability for many of the players, scintillating half-time shows, and wallet-breaking premium for commercial air time, the Super Bowl is less of a sporting event and more of a national holiday. And many of the games have lived up to the hype by providing exciting finishes and some historical comebacks. I am surprised that the Philadelphia Eagles are not somewhere on this list in PA

Perhaps one of the most thrilling last-second finishes in Super Bowl history belongs to the New York Giants, who faced the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Down by as much as 9 points in the first half, the Giants orchestrated a comeback that ultimately ended with the defense on the field. A first-half safety had given the Bills a promising 12-3 lead with a chance to enter halftime with an even larger one. But, the Bills were forced to punt and the Giants managed what could have been as much as a 14-point swing. So, instead of Buffalo entering the half up by as much as 19-3, the Giants managed to shave the lead down to 12-10. The teams managed to exchange touchdowns in the second half before Giants’ kicker Matt Bahr gave New York the slimmest of leads, 20-19. And what is likely one of the famous moments in Super Bowl history, Bills’ kicker Scott Norwood kicked the football wide right, narrowly missing a game-winning 47-yard field goal, as the game’s final seconds ticked away. 

Another moment involves one of the most questionable calls in Super Bowl history, a more recent showdown between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Down by as much as 10 points, the Patriots trailed Seattle by a score of 24-14 with a famed defense called the Legion of Boom called upon to hold the lead. However Brady managed to score two touchdowns in the final quarter to give New England a 28-24 lead with just over 2 minutes remaining. Seattle had managed to drive all the way to the New England 1-yard line with a very healthy and very effective Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. Everyone expected a run play. But, Russell Wilson dropped back to pass the ball, throwing an interception to Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler managed to return the ball far enough to secure another Super Bowl win for the New England Patriots.

But, without a doubt the most dramatic comeback in Super Bowl history also features the only Super Bowl ever to have gone into overtime to this point. The New England Patriots squared off against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, and the Falcons looked as if they would run away with it. More than halfway through the 3rd quarter, they led the Brady-headed Patriots by a score of 28-3. Before this point in history, the greatest deficit a Super Bowl-winning team had overcome was 10 points (also the Patriots). The game looked so bleak for New England that the odds of Atlanta winning the game were an astounding 99.5 percent. But, following five drives into the closing minutes of regulation and holding Atlanta to no scoring from that point, New England had scored three field goals and two touchdowns, both followed by successful two-point conversions. The Patriots had tied the game, 28-28. In overtime, it only took 7 plays for the Patriots to find the end zone and end the game with a touchdown to complete – by far – the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

What was the Miracle on Ice

Many people enjoy sports for the competitive nature and atmosphere that it provides. Physical or not, the entertainment from watching two people or teams pitting their physical skills and mental prowess against each other to see who is better in their respective arena can be one of the more thrilling experiences to witness as a sports fan. Something that makes these experiences all the more enjoyable and memorable is the occasional ascension of the underdog in particular contests – regard the Biblical showdown between David and Goliath. Granted, the stakes were higher in that case, but the point still stands. Witnessing a down-to-the-wire, back-and-forth slugfest between two opponents can make for a very thrilling experience. Witnessing an underdog topple a favorite in dramatic fashion can increase the thrill of the event exponentially by itself.

In 1980, the Winter Olympics were hosted in Lake Placid, New York. And for the national ice hockey team representing the Soviet Union, it appeared as if it would be business as usual. They were a heavy favorite to take the gold medal, and why shouldn’t they be? They had won the gold medal in the four previous Winter Olympics (dating back to 1964) and hadn’t lost a single Winter Olympic game since 1968. While IOC rules dictated at that time that winter sports teams were to be made up of amateurs, there were those who suspected that the Soviet team was actually comprised of athletes paid by the state to train on a full-time basis, explaining the reason behind their long success. In fact, since 1964, they had a cumulative record of 27-1-1 and had outscored opponents, 175-44, during that time period. Meanwhile, the United States team, coached by Herb Brooks, had their tryouts as late as the summer of 1979, with only one player returning from the 1976 team. Apart from this relatively short time period to come together as a unit, the United States team of the 1980 Winter Olympics was also the youngest in team history, averaging out at 21 years old. The fact that they were able to keep pace at all with an overwhelmingly favored Soviet Union team is astounding by itself.

The game was a single-elimination style contest in the first portion of the medal round, a round for which Sweden and Finland also qualified. The United States had advanced from their group of exhibition matches, sporting a 4-0-1 record and beating powerhouse Czechoslovakia in an impressive 7-3 victory. The Soviet Union swept their group for a 5-0 record, their closest games still decided by 2 goals. It looked as if the Soviet team would remain unstoppable, especially without a competitive Czechoslovakia team to face. But the United States would show a grit and physicality that nobody seemed to expect.

After the first period, the United States and the Soviet Union were tied, 2-2. But the Soviets dominated the second period, outshooting the United States with 12 shots on goal to 2, and taking a 3-2 lead into the final period of the game. The United States, in a surprising turn of events, scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the 3rd period to take a 4-3 lead. The Soviets, stunned at this, appeared to begin playing with less discipline. And the United States, oddly enough, continued to play offensively and aggressively to keep the pressure on the Soviet Union. The Soviet team began to shoot in a panicked frenzy, but American goalie Jim Craig managed to keep his composure long enough for Al Michaels to deliver the historical commentary in the closing seconds of the game:

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

Thus, the United States team, in a stunning 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union, had completed what would later be known as the Miracle on Ice. It was their ticket to the gold medal game, a game in which they defeated Finland, 4-2. The Soviet team later won the silver medal by defeating Sweden, 9-2

7 Greatest U.S. Olympians

The United States is arguably the most dominant country in the world in the Olympic Games. And with that, chances are that many of the top, most well-known Olympians will be ones that had worn the Stars and Stripes.

While there are some top competitors from many countries – including some top Olympics success like Germany, China, Canada, Australia, Russia and Great Britain – there are many legendary stories of Olympic success that come under the United States flag. It must be a nice job.

As the 2018 Winter Olympics are just around the corner, this is a good opportunity to look into who are some of the most successful Olympic athletes in U.S. Olympic history. Following are seven of our favorites, based on either the numbers of medals earned or the highest percentage of medals that were gold (minimum five medals).

Ray Ewry (Summer, eight medals – 100% gold)

There are a couple reasons that Ray Ewry is at the top of this list – first of all, the one with the most gold medals without earning any other medals; and second, being one who recovered from polio more than 50 years before the polio vaccine was invented. Not being able to walk when he was younger, Ewry fought through polio, and not only did he walk, but won eight gold medals at three Summer Olympics, winning the standing high and long jumps in 1900, 1904 and 1908 Games. Top of the world, and overcoming what was a debilitating and lethal disease.

Eric Heiden (Winter, five medals – 100% gold)

Eric Heiden could be considered the first U.S. Olympic hero in the “modern” Olympic era – the one that had heavy television coverage. Heiden captivated many and introduced speed skating as a dominant sport for the Americans, as Heiden won gold at all five distances of speed skating – from the 500-meter sprint to 10,000 meters. He is the only one to win five gold medals at a single Winter Olympic games.

Carl Lewis (Summer, 10 medals – 90% gold)

Considered the greatest American track athlete in Olympic history and multiple world-record holders, Carl Lewis was a dominant sprinter and long jumper for the United States in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 – yes, winning a gold in the long jump in 1996 to be the oldest gold-medalist in the Summer Games at age 35. He won the 100-meter dash and long jump at consecutive Olympics (1984 and 1988), which was unheard of at the time.

Bonnie Blair (Winter, six medals – 83% gold)

Bonnie Blair was for women what Eric Heiden was for everyone – she broke the glass ceiling on making speedskating sexy for women. Blair won all her medals over three Olympic games in the 500- and 1,000-meter sprint races, and – until Apolo Anton Ohno –  was the American all-time leader for Winter Olympic medals won (Ohno won eight), and tied with Heiden for most gold medals in the Winter Games.

Michael Phelps (Summer, 28 medals – 82% gold)

The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps makes the case as the greatest swimmer of all time not only for the quality but also the longevity, as he won an Olympic-record eight gold medals in 2008 (Beijing), six in 2004 (Athens) and five more in 2012 (London). Phelps has all-time records in total medals and gold medals (23), with a record 16 golds in individual events. The sheer number of medals is one thing, but then to have four of every of those medals be of the precious gold color? Dominant.

Mark Spitz (Summer, 11 medals – 82% gold)

Mark Spitz was Michael Phelps before Michael Phelps, and he did most of his work in a single Olympic Games, as he won seven gold medals in the 1972 Games in Munich, a record that stood as the most golds until Phelps 30 years later. But not only did Spitz get gold in all seven races in those ‘72 Games, he set seven world records. Not even Phelps ever had that success.

Greg Louganis (Summer, five medals – 80% gold)

Perhaps the greatest American diver ever, Greg Louganis was the one American who consistently broke through the Chinese stronghold in the springboard and platform events, winning five medals including four golds – winning both events in the 1984 and 1988 Games. He might be most known, however, for hitting his head on the springboard during competition in 1988, sending blood into the water just months after his HIV diagnosis.

What To Expect At The FIFA World Cup in Russia

Things are getting hot and heavy in the most popular sport.

Oh, wait. You thought we meant the NASCAR Monster Cup Series Playoffs?

Oh no, no, no. I meant the most popular team sport in the world.

No, we don’t mean the Major League Baseball playoff push, nor do we mean the opening weeks for the National Football League.

Of course, we mean the qualification stages for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, which is less than a year away. Because of the timetable, more than 200 national teams have been competing in various confederation tournaments to fill the 32 precious spots in the most important event in the world of soccer.

When qualification started last year, 209 countries put national teams on the pitch in six confederations (one on each continent), with each having pre-determined numbers of berths in the field, with host country Russia getting the benefit of automatic qualification. As of the middle of September, eight of the 32 spots have been filled thanks to efforts by some countries in their confederations.

So far, Africa and Oceania have not qualified any teams for Russia, while South America and the North America/Central America/Caribbean confederation each qualified one team (Brazil in the former, Mexico in the latter) so far. Belgium and Russia have qualified out of Europe, and Asia will be sending South Korea, Japan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, with a fifth team playing in a playoff for a single spot.

The confederations break down as such – Africa will send five teams to the showcase; Asia four (with a fifth in a playoff vs. North/Central America), North/Central America three (plus one in a playoff vs. Asia), Oceania will have one team in a playoff for a berth, South America will send three (plus one in a playoff vs. Oceania) and Europe will have 14.

The United States, by the way, is still in the running for a World Cup spot, as its North/Central America confederation is in Round Five of qualifying, which is a six-team round-robin. The top three teams out of that round-robin will qualify for the World Cup (Mexico plus two others), with the fourth-place team playing a team from Asia in a two-game playoff for a spot. The USA is in the final round-robin group with Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago, and that will be played during October and November of this year.

The 32 teams will be divided into eight groups of four teams at the World Cup in a round-robin format, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the “knockout,” or elimination-round tournament of 16 teams.

When you consider attendance figures and the television ratings all over the world with various soccer leagues and these international tournaments, soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and it is a sport that countries other than the U.S. excel and can dominate. National pride and glory are always on the line at a World Cup, and the drama and intensity in unparalleled compared to any other playoff system in any league. Imagine an NFL team playing as many as seven Super Bowls over the course of a month, and you get the idea of the significance of this tournament.