However, the main difference between football in Canada and American football is that in the American game, the ball is seldom touched by a player, while in Canadian football there are many scenarios in which the ball can be touched. For example, the Canadian game has a long-range passing game, which the American game does not have. In the United States, the game of football has been played since the early days of the country.
In the early years, the players were largely hired on by the teams, and even though many of them came from the provinces, the game was popular throughout the country. A number of Canadian football teams—including the Montreal Alouettes, the Ottawa Rough Riders, and the Toronto Argonauts—were founded as early as the year 1884. However, in 1889, the Canadian Football Association was founded by William Griffith, a former member of the United States Football Association and founder of the Canadian Football League. In the U.S., the field measures 15 by 55 yards (49 by 42 m), including a field goal line on the 40-yard line as well as a 15-yard end zone on the 50-yard line; no end zone is allowed in either sport. Each team has two or three running backs and three or four wide receivers, although the number of players on each team is reduced as the season progresses because of injury or because a player is suspended.
In Canadian football, there is no line of scrimmage—each team is without a center and can play with three wide receivers. The field is divided into four 12-yard lengths, with the center on the 5-yard line. The game is played on a gridiron field, with the ball placed on a line, and the team that scores the most points is declared the winner. On average, players in the original gridiron game may play for up to two hours per week. In American football, the field measures 150 by 60 yards (135 by 55 m), including two 20-yard end zones (for a distance between goal lines of 75 yards), teams have three downs instead of four, there are eleven players on each side instead of nine, a single point is scored if the offensive team kicks the ball out of the defense's end zone, and two free kicks are allowed.
The most significant difference between the two sports is that American football is played with a flat, three-man running back in the running back's direction, whereas in Canadian football the running back is a quarterback, or a runner-receiver, or a tight end. American football is currently the most popular and longest-running sport in the country. It is played by about 50.5 million people, accounting for about 4.5 percent of the total population. In American football, the field measures 140 by 75 yards (139 by 59 m), including two 20-yard end zones (for a distance between goal lines of 105 yards), teams have four downs instead of five, there are 12 players on each side instead of eleven, there are two free kicks (for a distance between goal lines of 27 yards), and a rouge, worth a single point, is scored if the offensive team kicks the ball out of the defense's end zone. The U.S. National Football League (NFL) was founded in 1947 in New York City. Although the name "American football" has been applied to the game in other countries, it is considered by the NFL to be its own game. The game is played in a 10-yard by 11-yard semicircle. The ball is placed on the center-line of the semicircle and the players can pass the ball to each other or try to keep it for themselves.