Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Girlfriend's Guide to Football

In case you are not aware, the biggest night in football is right around the corner.  I used to think that all football was good for was parties, eating snacks, and socialization with my girlfriends.  My poor dad tried to teach my sister and I about the game, but we were just not interested.  Then I got married, and Dearest tried to teach me a thing or two about the football. 
I didn't care.  Snacks.  Talking.  That's all I needed.
Then we moved to a magical land called, "Birmingham, Alabama."
Half of you just laughed.
For the other half, you have never stepped foot inside the Alabama state line, and you just don't know.
Alabama is this place where football rules all.
"But they don't even have a professional team!"  you think.
People in Alabama just ran you out, child.  Don't you know? 
There is no football, but college football.  And you need to choose. 
"Who do you cheer for?"
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I got this question after we first moved to Birmingham.
"Oh, we are from Arkansas, so we cheer for the Hogs."
The sweet grandmother I was talking to smiled patronizingly at me, and said,
"That's sweet.  But you need to tell me: Who do you cheer for?"
She meant Alabama or Auburn.
They made you choose.  You had to pick a side if you were going to live there.
It wasn't just the grandmas who surprised me with this question.  It was women my age.
You guys.  They were not the snack eating friends I had become accustomed to back in the pre-Alabama days.  Nay.
If you live in Alabama, male or female, young or old, you at least know something about football.
One day my friend and I were at lunch and she said to me,
"Laura, I'm really failing at life.  This is the first year I haven't had Alabama's entire team and fall schedule memorized by now."
It was May.

In an effort to make friends I learned the basics of the game.  I learned I actually like knowing a thing or two about football.  So, I'm going to pass on some basic knowledge to you.  Now you too can go to football parties for snacks, conversation, AND the game!

Let's begin:

First of all, I'm sure you've heard of a "touchdown."  This is the mother of all scores.  You want the touchdown.  The touchdown is scored when the ball passes into the "end zone."  Or, as I like to think of it, as the place where the most decoration is.

They make sure the end zone has the team's name or something written there in giant letters that are attractive, as well as visible from outer space.  That way, even the people on the space station can know when their team is winning.
When a team scores a touchdown they get six points.
Jump up and cheer y'all!  Six points!  But it is about to get even better...

So, once a team scores a touchdown they get an opportunity to score one more point by kicking the ball through the field goal post. (See below)

You may also see this bad boy when the team just can't seem to make it to the end zone, but they still want to put points on the board.  So, the kicker will come out and attempt a field goal.  If the ball makes it through this beauty, then the team gets three points.  Not quite as amazing as six or seven points, but they're still points.

Another place they like to put decoration is at the 50 yard line.
The 50-yard line is the very middle of the field. 

While this is always a fun surprise to come upon in the midst of a play, it is also beneficial. 
The decoration helps show a distinction in the field itself.  One half of the field is Team A's side of the field.  That means it is the side that Team A scores a touchdown or scores a field goal.  The other side of the field is Team B's side of the field.  So, if you hear the announcers say,
"They're on the Team A 30-yard line."
That means they are on the 30-yard line on Team A's side of the field.

How we doin', y'all? 
Doin' good?
Good, because stuff's about to get real up in here.   

Let's talk about downs.  You know there is a touchdown, but there are also other kinds of downs.  So, buckle in, friends, because this is where the rubber meets the road.
Okay, so in football when you start a play you get four chances to move the ball ten yards.  The first attempt is called the first down. 
So, if you start at Team A's 40-yard line, but only move the ball 3 yards you go to the second down. 
At this point you may hear the announcers say, "Such and such team is at 2nd and 7."
Translation: They are on their second down with seven yards remaining to get to another first down.
If they attempt the second down, but do not get to the 50-yard line, then they go to the third down.
If they STILL do not get it they go to the fourth down.
Now, something tricky happens on the fourth down.  Typically, coaches do not like to run a play on a fourth down because if their team does not get a first down it gives the other team a better shot at getting a touchdown.
So, usually, on the fourth down a team will kick the ball to the other team.
Then we start these shenanigans all over again with the other team.
If Team A does get a first down then they get another four chances to move the ball 10 yards, and that is a very good thing.  The more they move the ball, the closer they are to the end zone, which means the closer they are to a touchdown.  Woot!

I am, obviously, in no way a football expert.  These are only the mere basics that I know.  However, with this minimal knowledge I am able to watch a game, and kind of know what is going on.  Now you too, can eat the dip AND yell at the television while jumping up and down with everyone else.  Or maybe you're like my friend, Caycie, and you've been yelling at the tv with everyone else, even though you had no idea what was going on... 

If you know more about football and would like to share, then I welcome your education, my friend! 
Until then, be blessed.

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