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How many football players are on the field for a team at any given time?

How many points does a team get for a touchdown?

Confused about the difference between a punt, a kick-off and a field goal?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, maybe it’s time for you to read through Football 101 before the next big game. You see, football is my favorite sport.  It wasn’t always this way, it’s been an acquired taste.  I used to find myself glassy eyed and staring at the TV as a blur of colors ran willy nilly across the screen.  I could actually get through an entire game without knowing the names of the two teams that had just played.  Amazing I know, but I’m betting there are others of you who have done the same thing.

One day I finally decided this was no way to watch football, so I started to pay attention and ask questions…and guess what?  It’s much more fun to watch if you actually understand whats  going on out there on the gridiron. (BTW…careful research on the internet  tells me that a football field is called a “Gridiron” because,  “In 1906,  coaches specified that football fields have vertical and horizontal lines five yards apart. This created a checkerboard pattern that resembled those in gridirons, metal racks on which meat was broiled. Thus, football fields came to be nicknamed gridirons. Although the rules were changed in 1910 to eliminate the vertical lines on the field, the nickname for a football field lives on to this day,” according to Electro Mech.)

The first, and most important, tip I can give you is to pick a team to root for. If you have someone to cheer for, the game will be much more enjoyable. There are several ways to pick a team.  You could go with the stats, or maybe rooting for the underdog is more your style.  Or perhaps the color of the teams uniforms, or my personal favorite, who has the cutest quarterback.

So here are the basics, girls…

Football teams are made up of  offense, defense, and special teams.

  • Either your team’s offense or your team’s defense will be on the field at any given time, and each is made up of 11 players.  The offense of one team will be opposing the defense of the other team.
  • The football field is 100 yards long with end zones at each end which are 10 yards deep.   Each end of the field belongs to one of the two teams.
  • A team’s offense wants to move in the direction of the other team’s end of the field.  A team’s defense wants to keep the other team from moving towards their own end of the field.
  • Special teams come onto the field during situations involving a punt, kick-off, or field goal.

The object of the football game is to score the most points, so how does this work?

  • The offense (the team that has control of the ball) has 4 downs, or tries, to move the ball 10 yards towards the opponent’s end of the field.  The team can move the ball by running it or successfully passing it.
  • A play continues until the player holding the ball is tackled or forced out of bounds, or a pass is ruled incomplete.
  • If the offense moves the ball the 10 yards, they get another 4 tries to move the next 10 yards.  If the team does not move the ball 10 yards in 4 tries, they have to give the ball to the other team, or use the 4th down to kick the ball to the other team (also known as a punt).
  • If the offense makes it with the ball into the other team’s end zone, it’s called a touchdown.
  • After scoring, the team then kicks off the ball to the other team who will then get a chance to try to score.

Here’s an explanation of the scoring.

  • A touchdown (crossing into the end zone whether by running it or catching a pass) is worth 6 points.
  • A field goal counts for 3 points. When a team isn’t close enough to score a touchdown, it can attempt to kick the ball between the goal posts for a field goal.
  • A safety is worth 2 points.   A safety is when the offense of one team gets tackled in the defense’s end zone.
  • A third way to score is by completing an extra point or conversion. This is what happens after a touchdown is scored.  The scoring team can get 2 points if they can get the ball into the end zone again either by running or passing in ONE play after the touchdown.  They can score one extra point if they elect to kick the ball through the goal posts (also known as a PAT).

Other important stuff you should know

  • A football game has four 15 minute quarters, for a total of 60 minutes of play time.  The actual game usually ends up lasting between 3 and 3 1/2 hours.
  • There is a 12 minute halftime and 2 minute breaks between the 1st & 2nd quarters and the 3rd & 4the quarters.
  • Some of the reasons a game takes so long are time-outs, stoppages of play, player injuries,  and TV commercial  breaks.
  • In professional football, the regular season lasts 17 weeks, with one week off (the bye week), but then moves into the play-offs and finally ends with the Super Bowl.

Well, I hope this helps you get through the football season.  If you’re wondering about something that I didn’t cover, feel free to ask  and I’ll see if I can come up with the answer.

kate pic~Kate

Enjoy your Coffee Break!

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