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American football, known in the United States simply as football, is a competitive team sport. The object of the game is to advance the football towards the opposing team's end zone and score points. The ball can be advanced by carrying the ball, or by throwing or handing it from one teammate to the other. Points can be scored in a variety of ways, including carrying the ball over the goal line, throwing the ball to another player past the goal line or kicking it through the goal posts. The winner is the team with the most points when the time expires.

Outside of the United States, Canada, and a few other countries such as American Samoa, the sport is usually referred to as "American football" (or sometimes as "gridiron") to differentiate it from other football games, especially association football and rugby football. American football evolved as a separate sport from rugby football in the late 19th century. Arena football is a variant of American football.

Since the 1960s, football has surpassed baseball as the most popular spectator sport in the United States. The 32-team National Football League (NFL) is the most popular and only major professional American football league. Its championship game, the Super Bowl, is watched by nearly half of US television households, and is also televised in over 150 other countries. "Super Bowl Sunday" has become an annual ritual in late January or early February. Football is also the most watched sport on television in the US.

The NFL also operates a developmental league, NFL Europe, with 6 teams based in European cities.

College football is also extremely popular throughout the U.S., especially in markets not served by an NFL team. Several college football stadiums seat more than 100,000 fans -- which regularly sell out. Even high school football games can attract five-figure crowds, especially in hotbeds like Western Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Florida, Georgia and most especially Texas, Ohio, and California. The weekly autumn ritual of college and high-school football -- which includes marching bands, cheerleaders and parties -- is an important part of the culture in much of smalltown America.

Football is also played recreationally by amateur club and youth teams (e.g., the Pop Warner little-league programs). There are also many "semi-pro" teams in leagues where the players are paid to play, but at a small enough salary that they generally must also hold a full-time job.

Pro football is played only in the United States and in the above-mentioned NFL Europe league. The sport is popular as an amateur activity in Mexico and American Samoa and to a lesser extent in Japan, Europe and Australia.

A very similar sport, Canadian football, is widely played in Canada.

Organized football is played almost exclusively by men and boys, although a few amateur and semi-professional women's leagues have begun play in recent years.

Source: Wikipedia

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