If you watch football with your friends and try to act like you understand it, all the while wondering what the difference between a running back and a referee is, this article suits you. If you actually know football but want to read about it anyway because you’re sad that your sub-par AFC team can’t seem to find a QB, this article suits you also. So put down the calculus work because we both know you’re dropping the class come Oct. 1 anyway and read this. You could learn something about America’s real game.
On Nov. 6, 1869, Rutgers played Princeton in what would be the first-ever football game. Over the next 150 years, a sport of pure grit would evolve from its ancestor, rugby, to dominate the households of so many American families on weekends.
Football is a game of toughness. The object of it (bear with me, Cleveland fans) is to move a ball the length of a 100-yard field, past a point called the goal line. Once this is achieved, six points are granted, called a touchdown. A kicker will then attempt a P.A.T. (point after touchdown) to turn that hard-earned six into an expected seven points. If you can’t get it into the end zone, don’t worry! Your jersey probably reads “Baylor” and you can try to kick a field goal through the uprights for a lesser three points.
To get down the field, there are multiple ways to do it. A quarterback can throw the ball to a receiver or hand it to the running back. The idea of handing it off is for the purpose of exhausting the defense and making them guess the play call. Another reason is because Quarterback Jay Cutler has probably given up halfway through the second quarter. Either way, the run is always a solid option for the offense.
In order to keep the drive alive, the offense is given four attempts, called downs, to move the ball 10 yards. If the offense gains ten or more yards, they are awarded four more downs (unless you’re a Colorado fan) where they will continue until they cannot gain ten yards anymore, or they score.
Rules are tough to follow. Just ask anyone with a Florida State jersey on. However, there is a plethora of rules in football. I will not explain all of them, but to enumerate some of them; you have offsides, false start, pass interference, targeting, holding, clipping, unsportsmanlike conduct, late hit, ineligible receiver, shot to the helmet and many more that Ndamukong Suh could probably tell you about.
Penalties are stratified, typically by an added or subtracted yardage predicated on the severity of the committed foul. In perfect simplicity, there are three stages of penalties: five, ten and fifteen yards. Five-yard penalties are usually swept under the rug while fifteen-yard penalties can prove to be catastrophic.
Especially if your mascot is a gamecock and your quarterback’s first name is Jake, in which case that may or may not be equivalent to your total offensive yards through the third quarter. In short, fouling never works out for anybody even if their first name is Aqib and their last name is Talib.
The nature of football is hard work. Trust me, I played it. If you go around so insecure about your high school sport that you have to say “‘blank’ is harder than football!”, chances are, you’re incorrect way more self-conscious about your sport than you should be.
Understand this: every sport is difficult to a relative sort of person. So if you hate football because you think that Tom Brady and his perfect hair get too much credit but Neymar doesn’t, stop. The fact that football is a sport of toughness doesn’t mean you’re a wimp if you do crew instead. It means you’re from New England.But it doesn’t mean you’re a wimp. The fact of the matter is that as a high school football player, I was still mature enough to recognize the difficulty of all other sports like crew, soccer, baseball, softball, golf, volleyball and swimming. All very difficult sports in reality. Football players generally respect you and your sport more than you might think. They aren’t all “jocks.” Some of the football players are actually some of the smartest, nicest, coolest guys that you’ll ever meet.
On a more serious note, it’s a sport that breeds brotherhood. That’s why those of us who didn’t play in college appear to miss it so much. That’s why some of us write about it a year later in a dorm room at 10:30 p.m. Often times in football, a coach feels like a father, and a teammate like a brother.
So if you hate the game, try not to. Try to tune in to a game next time, or even go to one. It’s a fantastic game. Who knows, your team might actually win a game after 635 days, or not.