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American football - competitions



In the United States, the National Football League (NFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are the most popular football leagues. The National Football League (NFL) was founded in 1920 and has since become the largest and most popular sport in the United States. Collegiate football (NCAA) ranks third in overall popularity, behind only baseball. The NFL has the highest average attendance of any sporting league in the world, with an average attendance of almost 70,000 persons during the 2011 NFL Season. The championship game of the NFL, the Super Bowl, is among the biggest events in club sports worldwide. It is played between the champions of the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC), with the winner receiving the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The NCAA is divided into three Divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III. Division I football is divided into two football subdivisions: the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The champions of Division I-FCS, Division II and Division III are determined through playoff systems, while the Division I-FBS champion is determined through the Bowl Championship Series (BCS); however, Division I-FBS will switch to a four-team playoff system in 2014.


In addition to the major leagues, minor football leagues have been created. The XFL, a minor league created by Vince McMahon, ran for a single season in 2001 before folding. Despite television contracts with NBC and UPN and large expectations, the league suffered from poor on-field play and abysmal television ratings. Another minor league, the United Football League (UFL), has suspended its fourth season in 2012 due to financial issues. The most successful minor league was the American Football League, which operated from 1960 to 1969. After beginning as a minor league from 1960 to 1964, the league signed a five-year, USD 36 million-dollar television deal with NBC and began to operate in direct competition with the NFL. The AFL began signing NFL players to contracts and rivaled the NFL in popularity, leading the two leagues to merge in the 1970 season. Another minor league, the All-America Football Conference, operated from 1946 to 1949. The league folded following the 1949 season, but two teams from the league, the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, are current members of the NFL.Various other football leagues exist throughout the world. NFL Europa, the developmental league of the National Football league, ran from 1991 to 1992 and then from 1995 to 2007, when the NFL ended the league.


At the time of its closure, NFL Europe had five teams based in Germany and one in the Netherlands. The European Football League (EFL), run by the European Federation of American Football (EFAF), is an annual invitational tournament between the champions or co-champions of domestic tournaments or competitions run by EFAF members. The league's championship game is the Eurobowl. EFAF runs several other tournaments: the EFAF Cup, run between the top European teams in national leagues in a similar manner to the UEFA Cup, the Atlantic Cup, run between teams from the Atlantic region of Europe, and the Challenge Cup, run between teams from newer federations that are not eligible to play in the EFL or EFAF Cup. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF), an international body of American football federations, runs multiple tournaments such as the IFAF World Championship, held every four years since 1999. Other tournaments include the IFAF Women's World Championship, IFAF U-19 World Championship and the Flag Football World Championship; IFAF also holds the annual International Bowl game.





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