Everyday Mom’s Guide to Understanding Football

Written By: Lisa Westmiller

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year!!  No, not pumpkin spice everything, not cooler weather or even bon fire date nights. It’s everyone loses their man to the couch, the remote and endless amounts of football. Unfortunately, for us it’s not just a Sunday passion anymore. This goes on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays and even Saturdays now. And these are just game times, it doesn’t include fantasy football leagues, recaps, and highlights on Sports Center. GREAT!!! (insert eye roll here)

While most of you know there is college football as well as the NFL, there is also the Canadian Football League, Arena League, XFL, high school  and fantasy leagues. The plus side is it is all played the same for the most part. There are some minor details that unless you are an avid fan you don’t need to know. The rest though is cake once you know the lingo.

Let’s start with the basics…..

Each football game consists of 4 quarters. These quarters are 15 minutes long.  The first two quarters are played back to back with only a commercial interruption between. After the first two quarters are over there is a halftime. That is 15 minutes long. During regular season this is boring, but during the Super Bowl the show is usually pretty amazing. Once the regular game is over IF there is a tie it would go into overtime. Or OT as most will call it. Now overtime just recently changed so if you are following along up to this point great, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t grasp on to this part. I know, you would think 60 minutes would be plenty of time to figure out whom won but more often than not OT is the deciding factor. Now OT is figured by both teams having possession of the ball. If the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown then game over. If they don’t then the other team gets a chance to score. That team then only has to get a field goal or a touchdown to win the game. If neither team score then they play another “quarter” of the game but this time it is only 10 minutes. If no one scores still the game ends in a tie. Either way someone will be mad that their team didn’t win. Go figure.

Now the harder stuff. Each team has three squads in itself. You have the offense, the defense and the special teams. Offense is on the field when they have the ball. Defense is on the field when the other team has the ball. Special teams is on the field at the start of each half and after a touchdown for the point after and for the kick off once points are scored. Each squad consists of 11 people. More than that and it’s a penalty. But don’t be confused because you will hear about the 12th man. This is not a player. I repeat this is not a player. It is you, the fan, acting as an extra player by your noise to help confuse the boys on the field. However, I don’t suggest calling yourself the 12th man at home when you are trying to get your hubby to help with anything.

The offense has the following positions: The Quarterback, or QB. The Center or C. These two work very closely together. The Center is the person who hikes the ball to the QB. Sometimes you will see the QB with his hands up the butt of the Center and sometimes you will see him standing further back from the Center waiting for the ball. Both of these ways are legal. Then you have your Linebackers, or LB. These are the guys that block the other team from coming at your QB. Then you have your running backs and wide receivers. These are the ones who handle the ball during the play. The running backs obviously run the ball and the wide receivers are the ones who catch the ball and then run with it.

Then you have the defense. These are the bigger guys on the team. Their job is to stop the ball from moving down field. The defensive players do try to catch the ball from the other quarterback. That is called an interception. If this happens and the defensive player runs it in for a touchdown this is known as a pick six. Then you have players that are trying to tackle the player with the ball. Their goal is to stop the player running down field but also to strip the ball from the player. This is when the defensive player tries to take the ball away from the offensive player.

Special teams are easy. The goal is to kick the ball as far down field as possible. Then to run it back 100 or less yards in order to score. This is very rare. Maybe happens a half dozen times all season among all the games. I guess tough guys don’t like to run that much!

There are things that are called penalties. This happens instead of timeouts. They are punishable several different ways. Some are by loss of down, some are a 5 yard penalty, and it goes up to the point the infraction took place. This could be 75 yards or more. Players, coaches, and fans hate penalties. You will hear your man yell at the TV more for these than anything else. Penalties are the exact same thing as timeouts for your two year old. A minor meltdown and then over it once a few minutes go by.

If you have made it this far bless you. As you can tell football starts out okay and then kinda tapers off, just like this post. HAHA. This is just the very minimum on the sport. There is lots more detail & lots more to learn. But knowing just this little bit will help you bond with your guy during his favorite time of the year. FB1

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