This Sunday is America’s version of the Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao fight. The American world stops (at least for most who do not have work on Sunday night) for the Superbowl, the biggest American football game of the season.
I didn’t know anything about American football then. Even with the exposure on American pop culture on TV and the silverscreen, all I knew about the sport was the quarterback as the team captain and that you had to score touchdowns. That’s it.
But now I still cannot say I am an expert, hell no! But I must say that I have picked up some working knowledge of this once mysterious game. And if you are watching the Superbowl for the first time, here are some things that you may need to know (or some random thoughts about the sport from this newbie):
- Like I said earlier, the object of the game is to score the most
touchdownspoints AND to ensure that the other team does not score points touchdowns. The team with the most touchdowns after 4 quarters (15-minutes each) of play wins.
- Having said that, in a football team, there are 2 sub-teams: the offense – the guys in charge of making the touchdown, and the defense – the guys in charge of stopping the other team from making touchdowns.
- To get to do a touchdown, the offensive team must get the ball to reach their end of the field, while the defensive team stops them from doing so.
- The offensive team gets a limited number of attempts to get the ball to their end of the field. This offensive attempt is called a “down”, wherein the team gets 4 attempts to get the ball past 10 yards. So when they call out “1st & 5”. This means that this is the first down (or whatever number of downs they are at) and the offensive team needs to get past 5 yards to reset the down. Errrr…I hope I got that right.
- The football playing field is measure at 100 yards. It is divided into 2 sections: 50 yards covering the home team side and the remaining 50 yards covering the visiting team’s side.
- A touchdown is worth 6 points, while a field goal kick is worth 3 points.
- To indicate that a team has scored a touchdown, referees raise their two arms (not that they have any more) above their heads. Like so.
- After scoring a touchdown, the team gets the chance to kick the ball through the goal posts, which is worth 1 point. This is called the “free kick”.
- The offensive team also has the option to make a two-point conversion, which is worth 2 points, instead of a free kick.
- Though the name of the game is “football”, there are only 3x that the foot is actually used: the punt, the free kick and the field goal. Oh, please let’s not get into those just yet.
- So do you know understand why football is called “soccer” in the US? And only in the US.
- On the defensive end of things, the defensive team has to stop the offense by trying to pry the ball from them through a fumble, to let the offensive team’s ball carrier drop the ball, or an intercept, to catch the ball meant to be caught by a fellow offensive team member.
- When the defensive team catches a fumble or makes an intercept, then they get a “turnover”. The defensive team will now get the chance to score.
- A yellow flag is thrown on the field when a player goes against the rules. It is like a “foul” called on the basketball player. The team gets a penalty, depending on the offense.
How about special teams (which I first called “special forces”. Can you hear The Husband’s guffaws at my silly mistake?), blitzes and whatever other terms I have not discussed? Well, again, I am still taking baby steps in appreciating American football. No expert yet. But I do hope these basics help you get some understanding and help participate in the event’s discussion, not just scarf down chips, guac and wings.
Hope y’all enjoy the game on Sunday!
P.S. Feel free to add on any more American football insights (and corrections!).