Walter Chauncey Camp Biography (The Father of American Football)


Who is Walter Chauncey Camp? Information on Walter Chauncey Camp biography, life story, football career.

Walter Chauncey Camp

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Walter Chauncey Camp; (1859-1925), “the father of American football.” Camp was born in New Britain, Conn., on April 7, 1859. He entered Yale University in 1876 and played halfback there for six years, the last two while at Yale Medical School. He made football history in his first season by throwing the first forward pass (legalized in 1906). As Yale captain, Camp made suggestions on rules that led in 1880 to the reduction of men on a side from 15 to 11; the reduction of the size of the field from 140 by 70 yards to 110 by 53; and the substitution of the scrimmage (ball being put into play by one side) for scrum (a scramble for the ball). In 1882, before an injury retired him as a player, he had instigated the system of downs.


After a business venture in New York, Camp was football coach at Yale (1888-1892) and Stanford University (1894-1895). From 1889 to 1924 he named All-America football teams, and these were accepted as the last word on the subject. (He later said that Caspar Whitney, a New York City sports authority, chose the teams through 1896.) In 1917 Camp was chairman of the athletic department, U. S. Commission on Training Camp Activities (for Navy personnel), out of which came the famous “Daily Dozen” exercises. Among his books are Football: How to Coach a Team (1886) and American Football (1891). He died on March 14, 1925, in New York City.

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