American Football is one of the most popular sports in the US. From community leagues to college to professional, millions of boys (and a few awesome girls-like her) played the game. In fact, it is approximated that 73% of Americans have played football in some capacity + 41.5 million people played fantasy football in 2014.
Though football has a lot of rules, as long as you understand the basics, you will be just fine.
The Field + Players
The field is split into two sides, every 50 yards in descending order. At both ends of the field, there is an end zone + a goal post.
At any given time each team has 11 players on the field. The offensive team includes the quarterback, wide receivers, running backs, a center, tight ends, a halfback, fullback, offensive guard, offensive tackles + occasionally the kicker. The makeup of each team depends on the play. The defensive team is made up of safeties, linebackers, defensive tackles, cornerbacks + defensive ends. Their objective is to stop the offensive team from moving forward by tackling the player with the ball or intercepting the pass.
How the Game is Played + Scoring
To begin the 60 minute (split into quarters) game, one team kicks off to the other- usually decided by a coin flip. The receiving team then runs the ball or takes a knee. If the ball is caught in the end zone, the offense gets to start on the 20-yard line.
Once the center hikes the quarterback the ball, the QB either runs it himself, throws it to another player (usually a wide receiver or tight end) or hands it off to a running back. The offensive team has four downs or tries to go ten yards, and start back at a first down, or turn the ball over to the other team. Normally if they haven’t made it ten yards by the third down they punt to the other team or- if they’re in range- kick a field goal.
When the ball crosses the plane of the opposing team’s end zone, the offensive team scores six points (a touchdown). they then have two options. A. Kick the ball between the goal post resulting in a field goal- one point. B. Cross the plain again + receive two. A field goal can also be kicked in lieu of a touchdown for three points. The least common way to score is with a safety. A safety occurs when the offense is tackled in their own end zone. In the event of a safety t, e defense receives two points.
In football, both the offense + defense cal be penalized. Penalties cause the ball to move forward or backward on the field. The most common penalties are holding (literally holding someone while trying to block) false start (starting before the play) being offside (crossing the line of scrimmage before the play begins) and pass interference (not given the receiver a chance to catch the ball). Other penalties include roughing the passer, roughing the kicker, encroachment and personal fouls.
- Fumble- when a player drops the football
- Incomplete pass- when a no one catches the pass
- Interception- when the defensive catches the pass
- Conversion- making the first down
- Line of scrimmage- where the play started
- Blocking- literally what it is, keeping a player from moving toward their target
- Sack- when the player with the ball is tackled behind the line of scrimmage
- Snap- when the center hikes the ball to the quarterback
- Fake- when the quarterback tricks the defense (or tries to)
- Hail Mary- A very long pass with small chances of being completed
- Touchback- when the kick-off goes past the end zone
There are 32 teams in the NFL in cities across the US. There are hundreds of college football teams split up into three divisions, division one being the largest schools. The eleven major college football conferences are the SEC, C-USA, Big 12, AAC, Big Ten, ACC, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, WAC, and independent teams. Teams commonly switch conferences.
This year the Seattle Seahawks + New England Patriots will be facing off in Super Bowl XLIX. Will you be tuning in? If you have any burning football questions or addendum to my post please comment them below.