The World Series of Football was a series of football games played indoors at New York City's Madison Square Garden in 1902 and 1903. It originally comprised five teams, four from the state of New York and one from New Jersey. While none of the teams was really considered the best in the country, historians refer to the affair as a "World Series". However, it was hardly a series in the sense of two strong teams playing each other over several games. In fact, no team played another more than once and the team pairings were also considered odd. Under the 1902 system, the anticipated second-place team was automatically swept into the championship game without even playing a down while the expected first-place finisher had to fight its way through the brackets, effectively creating a cross between a traditional tournament and a "gauntlet-style" tournament for the first-place team.
The event was the idea of Tom O'Rourke, who was the manager of the Gardens at the time. He needed an event to draw people to the Gardens in late December, which was a slow time of the year for sporting events. Basketball and hockey were not yet major sports in New York, so O'Rourke decided to play to host a series of indoor football games. He decided to invite several professional and college teams to the Gardens for the series. Tom O'Rourke envisioned a series of games, showcasing the best in college and pro teams, eventually leading to one climactic game, crowning the "champion of the world."