They’d come to Ralph Hay’s dealership not looking for a fresh pair of wheels, nevertheless, but a brand new professional soccer league to rescue them from themselves.
From 1920, pro soccer remained completely overshadowed by the school game plus a bastion restricted mostly to little Midwestern industrial towns. Worse for group owners, they had been bleeding money due to soaring player wages and extreme bidding wars since they poached players from different squads. The proprietors of those separate specialist teams coveted a strong league like the a baseball needed to be able to acquire more control over the game and their financing.
Hay, whoever owns the reigning Ohio League winner Canton Bulldogs, had invited representatives from other in-state teams to an organizational meeting in his showroom on August 20 where they consented to a broad overview of a new institution. According to the canton evening repository, the objective of the new venture will be “to increase the caliber of professional soccer in every manner possible, to remove bidding for gamers between rival clubs and also to secure collaboration in the creation of programs”.
Jim Thorpe, First President of The APFA
Almost a month after, a bargain was prepared to be struck. (So unknown were the groups that the assembly minutes wrongly recorded the Cardinals, who played home matches at Regular Park Chicago’s Racine Avenue, as being against the Wisconsin city of the identical name). Not able to squeeze Hay’s office to the night, the soccer pioneers, such as Jim Thorpe and George Halas, sat on the running boards and fenders of their 3,000 cars on the showroom floor and caught cold beer bottles by an icy bucket since they hammered out an arrangement.
Then, the guys moved and seconded a suggestion to create a confederation called the American Professional Football Association (APFA). The team wanted a president to direct the company and also be its public face, and also the choice required little disagreement. The group representatives unanimously chosen the 32-year-old Thorpe, the Canton Bulldogs celebrity who although beyond his prime was touted by papers like the Milwaukee Journal as the ”world’s greatest athlete”. Indeed, the collection of this gridiron’s highest gate appeal acquired more ink in papers across the nation than the creation of this APFA itself.
The very first game between an APFA team happened on September 26, 1920, in Douglas Park at Rock Island, Illinois, since the hometown Independents flattened the St. Paul Ideals 48-0. The very first head-to-head conflicts from the league happened one week after Dayton topped Columbus 14-0 and Rock Island glued Muncie 45-0.
While the gridiron measurements were the exact same in 1920 as now, the ace game itself was rather different. Forward moves were infrequent, training from the sidelines was illegal and gamers collaborated on both defense and offense. Instead of the standard 16 game program, clubs at 1920 educated their particular competitions and may play with non league as well as faculty squads that counted in their own documents. With no established guidelines, the amount of matches played and the standard of competitions scheduled from APFA teams diverse, and the team failed to assert official standings.
Games received little attention in the fans and much less from the media. The institution bylaws called for groups to cover a $100 entrance fee, but nobody ever did. Muncie played just a match before falling out until the end of the year, which concluded on December 19.
In the finish of the year there were no playoffs–let alone a Super Bowl–and it required over four weeks prior to the league bothered to crown a winner. Much as college soccer did for years, the APFA decided its victor by ballot. The victors obtained a silver loving cup given by sporting goods business Brunswick-Balke-Collender. While players weren’t awarded diamond-encrusted rings they did get gold fobs in the form of a soccer inscribed with the words “World Champions”.
College soccer stayed king, drawing audiences as large as 100.000, while NFL franchises went and came. Just after the registering of faculty phenom Red Grange in 1925 did ace soccer start to grow in popularity.
The NFL’s first period was quickly forgotten in the collective sport memory the league’s official listing books recorded the 1920 championship as undecided before the 1970s. The whereabouts of this Brunswick-Balke-Collender Cup, just given out that time, are still unknown. The heritage of two APFA franchises proceeds on, nevertheless. The Racine Cardinals currently play Arizona, along with the Decatur Staleys transferred to Chicago in 1921 and changed their name into the Bears the next year.