The First Indoor Football Game
The Arena Football League started in the early 1980’s and since its inception has grown in popularity. While not eclipsing the NFL, the league has managed to stay a viable professional football league for over twenty years and even contribute players to NFL teams. Since the Arena League pioneered the way, other smaller indoor football leagues have sprung up around the country on both a professional and semi-professional level. But, when was the first game of American football played indoors?
The year would be 1932, over fifty years before the dawn of the Arena Football League. In 1932 the Chicago Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans, who would later become the Detroit Lions, in a most unusual championship game. The league was not entirely organized at the time, so to begin with it was an unofficial championship game pitting the two professional teams with the best records against each other. The game was set to be played in Chicago, home of the Bears, but before it could start the unthinkable happened. One of the worst storms in recent history hit the Windy City and due to neither team’s ownership wanting to increase the expenses by relocating or delaying the game, it was moved to the closest athletic location that wouldn’t be affected by the storm; indoors at Chicago Stadium. The game was played in the indoor arena and the Bears were victorious.
The Arena Football League is the exciting and established leader in terms of indoor football, but don’t let them tell you they were the first.