Hey mom! Has your teen decided to go out for football? Are you finding yourself in the stands cheering on your favorite athlete, without knowing much about the sport itself? If your knowledge of football falls somewhere between clueless and confusing, read on. The following basic terminology of this fall favorite will have you tailgating in the know.
Offense: The team that has the ball is on offense. The object for the offense, like all sports, is to score. There are a few ways the offense can do this.
Touchdown: A touchdown is worth six points and is scored by running or passing the ball in to the opposing team’s end zone. The end zone is the area at the opposite end of the field.
Extra Point: Immediately after a touchdown, the offense has a chance to score an extra point by kicking the ball through the goal posts. The goal posts are also located in the end zone.
Field Goal: A field goal is another way to score. This is just like scoring for the extra point, only it is worth three points and can be done from further down the field, usually on the fourth down.
So you get the basic verbiage of scoring. But how do they play? Is there really any rhyme or reason to all that running and pounding down the field? It may appear to be unstructured; but the trained-mom’s-eye can learn to recognize the basic strategy involved.
When junior is on the offensive side of the ball, they are trying to score. They do this by trying to move the ball down the field by passing the ball, handing it off or running with it. The offense has four chances, which are called downs, to move the ball 10 yards or more from the place where they first took over the ball. If the offense succeeds at this, they can get another first down and four more chances to keep moving the ball down the field and into scoring position. Each play ends when the person carrying the ball is tackled.
The players on the offensive side of the ball who are not throwing or running with the ball are trying to block against the defense and pave the way to continue to drive the ball down the field.
Defense: The defense’s job is to stop the offense from scoring or moving the ball down the field and into scoring position. They do this by tackling the player who has the ball and trying to intercept or catch the ball as it is being thrown in order to get the ball back.
Well mom, this certainly isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of all of the positions on the field, understanding all of the plays and special teams, etc. But hopefully it will allow you to understand the gist of the game enough to follow along and be able to tailgate with the best of the football moms underneath those Friday night lights!