Football Simplified For Us Girls Who Actually Know Very Little About It

FootballSimplifiedForGirls_LaurenJohnson-1They get loud. They get wild. They sometimes get a little smelly.

They’re our guy friends.

Serving as unofficial big brothers to many of us, guy friends are essential, especially when the petty drama of girl world becomes too much to bear. But, when you call your guy friends to hang out on a Saturday or Sunday, they don’t answer. Why?

Football, that’s why.

Whether it’s a professional or college football game, you can find guys glued to their couches screaming at the television to a referee or player who will never hear what they are saying no matter how loud they yell.

So ladies, that leaves two options. You can let boys be boys and ignore your guy friends while the big game is on, or you can join the madness. Football is not nuclear physics; the basics are easy to learn.

This crash course is for those of you who know virtually nothing about the sport, but by the end will allow you to spend time with the guys and have the confidence to maybe even join in on their yelling.

Each team, regardless of whether they are on offense or defense at the time, will have 11 players on the 100-yard field. The game is broken into four 15-minute quarters with a halftime after the first two.

Essentially, the goal is for the team on offense to get the ball into the opposing team’s end zone, or rectangular section on either end of the field. The offense is led by the quarterback (QB), or the guy who throws the ball. He’s protected from the opposing defense by a wall of (enormous) men called the Offensive Line (O-Line) and will likely throw to either his receivers or tight ends (TE). The offense can also opt to run with the ball, which is usually done by the running back (RB)

The offense has only four tries to move the ball 10 yards at a time, each try referred to as downs. If it is the first attempt, it is called first down; second attempt is called second down, etc. until fourth down. However, if a team does not move the 10 yards after third down, fourth down is typically reserved for punting. The punter will come on to the field and punt (kick) the ball toward the other team’s end zone, where the team that was on defense will now have a chance at offense.

If the offense successfully moves down the field and manages to get the ball into the end zone, that team has scored a touchdown (TD) and is allotted six points. In most situations, the kicker will then take the field and attempt to kick the ball from the opponent’s two-yard line through the goal posts for one extra point, making their scoring total seven. If the offense gets fairly close to the end zone but cannot manage to score a TD, the kicker can attempt a kick from wherever the offense left off and score a field goal, which is worth three points.

If I broke down the defensive side of the ball, this crash course could get lengthy. Ultimately, it is important to know that the defense as a whole has two main objectives; force their opponents to punt (thus stopping them from scoring) and try to cause turnovers. A turnover is when the defense takes the ball from the offense by either an interception, when the QB throws the ball but the defense catches it, or a fumble, when the offense loses control of the football and the defense recovers it.

This is all only breaking the surface of the beauty that is football. There are so many other aspects and rules to the game, but this is a good foundation. The Super Bowl is right around the corner in February so if you continue to expand your knowledge, who knows? Maybe by then you’ll be the one teaching the guys a thing or two.

Photo by Lauren Johnson


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