Football 101

Ever sat next to that cute, sporty boy in class, wanted to strike up a conversation, but had no idea what to talk to him about?  You racked your brain endlessly for ideas, but nothing came to mind except yesterday, when you attempted to watch a football game with your dad. But you cannot remember for the life of you who won the game, let alone who was even playing.

While you may only recall handsome football players when you think of football (Tom Brad or Eli Manning ring any bells?) believe it or not, this sport is actually not as complicated as you may think.

<strong>History:</strong> The game of football originated in the United Kingdom during the early 1800s.  We can thank the father of American football, Walter Camp, for giving us the game we now recognize today.  He was largely responsible in evolving the sport from its sister sports, soccer and rugby.  The first collegiate football game took place between Rutgers and Princeton Universities in 1869.  The first professional football game took place during the month of November 1892.  From that point on the game was constantly changing and undergoing rule changes to make it safer, eventually becoming the game we know today.

<strong>Basis: </strong> While football may look confusing, its objective is rather simple—two teams made up of 11 players attempt to score points by advancing the ball down the field to their respective end zone or goal line.  The ball is moved closer to the end zone by either team running it, also known as a running play, or throwing it to another teammate, known as a passing play. The team with the ball in their possession is playing on offense where as the team that does not have the ball is playing defense. A game is divided into four quarters consisting of 15 minutes each, with a halftime taking place immediately following the conclusion of the first two quarters.

<strong>Downs:</strong> As you’ve already read, the entire point of the game is to advance the ball down the field in order to score. However, there are only so many chances the team’s offensive squad gets at scoring. These chances are referred to as downs. The offense has four tries to successfully obtain a first down, meaning the team must advance the ball at least ten yards closer to the end zone.  The offense will look to one of the most important players on the team, the quarterback, to achieve a first down by advancing the ball down the field.  As long as the offense keeps obtaining first downs, they will keep the ball in their possession, furthering their chances of getting closer to their end zone to score.

<strong>Scoring:</strong> The ball must be physically across the goal line or caught within the end zone by a player. After a team scores a touchdown, which is six points, they can go for extra points in one of two ways: by kicking a field goal, which will add one point to the score making it seven, or set up another play by attempting to break the plane by either running the ball or throwing it in, totaling two extra points. A team can also score by kicking a field goal instead of making a touchdown, which will garner three points for each successful kick attempt.

Don’t be scared off if this game seems confusing.  As long as you understand the basic concepts, you’ll be able to effortlessly watch the game. Or at least confidently converse about it the next time you sit next to that cute guy you’ve had your eye on.

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