One early use of half-time, and it is suggested the origin of the practice, was to allow for two football teams each used to a different set of rules to play half of the game by familiar rules, and half by the opposition rules. This was practised notably between followers of Eton rules football (closer to modern association football) and Rugby rules football (closer to modern rugby ). This use of half-time was unnecessary after the standardisation of football rules in 1863
Half-time for spectators offers the opportunity to visit the John, get some food or drink, or just exercise cramped limbs, without the fear of missing any of the action. A show may be put on for the spectators to keep their attention, most famously in the case of the American football Super Bowl. As many spectators at the ground may be otherwise occupied using stadium facilities it might be inferred that the scale and spectacle of half-time entertainment is more directly related to the size of the potential television audience.
In many sports that are televised, half-time offers the opportunity to advertise, a valuable source of revenue for television companies. In addition, it allows analysis of the game so far by pundits. Controversial incidents or exceptional play may be highlighted at this time. It also allows viewers to catch up with any action that they may have missed.
|Sport||Length of halftime||Length of a half|
|Football (soccer)||15 minutes||45 minutes|
|Rugby union||40 minutes|
|Australian rules football||two periods of play (quarters)|
|American football||12 (professional) or 20 (college) minutes||15 minutes of 2 periods (quarters)|
|Basketball||10 minutes||10 (FIBA) or 12 (non-FIBA) minutes of 2 periods (quarters)|
|Netball||two periods of play (quarters)|