It’s that time again. Fall in the U.S. means back to school, back to work, pumpkins, autumn leaves and football! If you love football, this is your favorite time of year. But, if you are one of those people who can’t understand why your family and friends sit in front of the television on Sundays and watch a bunch of grown men knock each other down, you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking about all the Sunday afternoons you will be spending alone. Wouldn’t it be better to find out what all the fuss is about?
The good news is that you don’t have to learn a lot of rules or statistics to join in the fun. By learning a few basics, you can become part of the Sunday crowd who cheers, groans and lives with the ups and downs of their favorite teams.
To start watching and enjoying football, you need to know a few fundamentals:
1. Football is a game of strategy with two opposing teams each guarding its own territory. In the National Football League (NFL), the game is played on a rectangular field that is 531/3 yards wide and 100 yards long with a goalpost at each end. One team guards one goalpost, the opposing team the other. The teams face each other like small armies and use a football as a weapon to fight for territory. When an advancing team reaches the opposing team’s goalpost area, called the end zone, it scores points The team with the most points at the end of the game wins Game play is 60 minutes, split into four 15-minute quarters, with a halftime break in between the second and third quarters
2. The teams take turns possessing the football in an attempt to gain territory. The play starts when the center snaps (hikes) the ball to the quarterback who then throws the ball to a teammate or hands it off to someone who tries to run as far as he can through the defensive players. Occasionally a quarterback will keep the ball and run himself. The object is to break through the opposing team’s defense while carrying the ball and gain as much forward yardage as possible. On the other side, the defensive players try to thwart any gain by tackling the receiver or runner, knocking the pass down or by getting to the quarterback and stopping him from throwing or handing the ball off. The play is over when the player with the ball is tackled, runs out of bounds or his forward progress is stopped.