Simplified Guide to Football

Monarch%27s+defensive+line+prepares+to+rush+the+Broomfield+quarterback+on+October+25th%2C+2013.+The+Broomfield+center+can+be+seen+preparing+to+snap+the+ball+to+the+quarterback.

David Andrews

Monarch's defensive line prepares to rush the Broomfield quarterback on October 25th, 2013. The Broomfield center can be seen preparing to snap the ball to the quarterback.

Daisy Fuchs, Web Editor in Chief

Football is a center of American culture, and many people spend entire days shouting at a television set and emotionally investing themselves in the game. The Super Bowl has practically become a holiday, with more than 111 million viewers. I will admit that most every year of my childhood, when my family tuned into the Super Bowl, I rooted for the team with the prettiest colors. It is not like it made much difference, I had more interest in the Doritos commercials or some musician dancing around on a brightly illuminated stage at halftime. For me, the problem was simply that I had no idea what was going on in the game.

Football is an incredibly complex game with many players and even many more rules. The N.F.L. rulebook is a whopping 242 pages long. For those of us who have not dedicated time to learning rules of the game, understanding what is happening in the game is hard, if not virtually impossible. After researching and learning about football, I hope to be able to inform those who are lost about the basics of the game. So that when they sit down to watch a game with their friends and family they are not cheering for the team with the prettiest colors.

The basic goal of the game:

The goal of football is to win. This is done by scoring more touchdowns and field goals than the other team. A touchdown is when a person either runs with the ball into the end zone or catches the ball in the end zone. The end zones are at the ends of the field; often on the professional fields, they are decorated with the teams colors.

Good things for your team to do:

  • Scoring a touchdown is good. Each touchdown is worth six points.

  • Making a field goal is also a good thing. A field goal after a touchdown is worth one point and a field goal without a touchdown is worth three points.

  • Catching or throwing a really long pass. These are even better if the pass is caught in the end zone and causes a touchdown.

  • Catching an interception. An interception is when a pass is caught by someone on the defensive team. This allows the defensive team to switch to being on offense.

  • The defensive squad your team tackling the quarterback and causing him to go backwards. This is called getting a sack.

  • Recovering a fumble. This just means that the ball is picked back up after it has been dropped.

  • Moving the ball forward ten yards within four downs. If the offensive team is able to do this then they get another four downs. A down is also called a play; in short summary, a play is when the ball is in action or when football is actively being played on the field.

Bad things for your team to do:

  • Fumbling the ball; this is when the ball is dropped.

  • Not making it the full ten yards within the four plays. This allows the other team to go to offense.

  • Getting sacked

  • Throwing an interception

  • Having penalties called are not good at all. When a penalty is called it is because a rule has been broken, such as holding (when a defensive player holds onto an offensive player for too long). It is fairly obvious when there is a penalty because the referees throw a yellow flag and then explain what happened on the field. When a penalty is called against a team, then that team has to move backwards anywhere from 5 to 15 yards.

Players on the Field and what they are doing there:

Offense:

  • Quarterback – the person who it throwing the ball

  • A running back (also sometimes call a halfback or fullback)- their job is to run with the ball and get as far as they can, ideally to the end zone

  • Wide receiver – they catch the passes thrown by the quarterback, it is good if they catch the ball while standing in the end zone

  • Center – the player in the middle of the line  who passes (snaps) the ball through their legs to the quarterback

  • Offensive linemen – they try to stop a defensive member from the other team from interfering with their offensive members

Defense:

  • Cornerback/safety – they cover the wide receivers and try to keep them from getting the ball

  • Linebacker – the job that they have is to go tackle people

  • Defensive linemen – to get through the offensive linemen and tackle the quarterback and get a sack (then do a silly little dance that looks rather odd when the player is 300+ pounds)

Special Teams:  These are basically the layouts of players on the field when they are doing something that is not offense or defense. Special teams are used for field goals, kick offs, punts, and kick off return.

What the heck is up with kicking the ball?:

Even though it seems counter intuitive based off of the name, football is played mostly with hands. Although, there are a few places where feet are used instead.

  • Kickoff:  They kick the ball off of a tee and kick it towards the other side of the field where the opposing team is. This is done after a touchdown or to start a game.

  • Punting:  This is when the offensive team drop kicks the football on their fourth down to try and make the other team have to start farther back when they go to being on offense.

  • Field Goal: The object of kicking any field goal is to get the football through the two big yellow poles (that are called the field goal) After the team scores a touchdown they get to try for a field goal, this is called an extra point. They kick the ball from the two yard line and if they make it through after a touchdown they get one extra point. Field goals also can be scored during regular game play for three points. This is usually done on the fourth down.

How time passes:
The running clock in football is only one hour of play. However, a football game can take over three hours. This is because the clock stops every time that there is a missed pass, a time out, someone with the ball runs out of bounds, an injury occurs, or there is a penalty. The game is also slowed down because between each play there is 40 seconds to figure out the next play. Football games also have breaks at the end of each quarter. This leaves plenty of time for fans to cheer, commercials to be shown, and for commentators to, well, comment.