Semi-Professional Football is considered football that men play who get paid less than livable wages. This is not really correct. In most semi-pro leagues, such as the New England Football League, it is against league rules to reimburse players in any way. Which means no one is making any money playing semi-pro football.
The first year team for the Vermont Ice Storm in the New England Football League is made up of players who love football so much that they pay to play semi-pro football. In fact, all the players on the Vermont Ice Storm has had to purchase their own football equipment, contribute a player fee (in order to make sure they don't have to pay extra for a team uniform) and they also have to pay for traveling expenses for getting to all practices and to all away games. Over the course of a season, the financial burden can be substantial.
Professional football was developed in the 1890s in Pennsylvania when local athletic clubs Played in intense competition. Former Yale football star William "Pudge" Heffelfinger became the first-ever pro football player when he was hired by the Allegheny Athletic Association to play in a game against their rival, the Pittsburgh Athletic Club in November 1892. By 1896, the Allegheny Athletic Association was made up entirely of paid players. As football became more and more popular, local semi-pro and pro teams were organized across the country. semi-pro football was the precursor to pro football. Why did they come up with the semi-pro football name? When we look at the history of this level of football it tells us that some name was needed to differentiate this type of football from high school, college, and pro football. A few traveling players, wandering the country in search of games to play in, were paid small amounts (usually under the table) to make local, small town teams look better and win.
In the 1910s professional football proved itself a viable spectator sport with the forming of The Ohio League. Canton was the premiere team featuring the legendary decathlete and football star Jim Thorpe. Thorpe was an international star who brought football to a new level. He won a gold medal in the in the decathlon in Stockholm in 1912. Thorpe and the Canton team drew big crowds and created a market for professional football in Ohio and beyond.
At the NFL's Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, there is reference made to the "Watertown Red and Black" football team being the "first pro football team in America." So Watertown was the first ever paid football team. Today Watertown Red and Black is a powerful semi-pro team with a fine history behind it. It is a member of the Empire Football League with the Vermont Ice Storm being one of its opponents.
So "semi-pro" football means "amateur football" in a real sense. It is played by adults, from the ages of 18 to "whatever," who love the game enough after their high school and / or college careers that they feel they haven't gotten football out of their systems.