Football for n00bs: the sport explained

Without proper explanation, football can seem like a maze of players with no direction. Graphic by Danny deBoer.

Without proper explanation, football can seem like a maze of players with no direction. Graphic by Danny deBoer.

Danny deBoer, Staff Writer

When people hear the word football, they think of big strong men slamming into each other and getting hurt in the process; bright shining lights and Friday nights with friends. While popular belief says that first statement is true, football is also a fun sport to play and this article is here to clear up some of the fog around football.

“One of the biggest misconceptions in football is that it’s exactly like you see in the NFL.In high school it’s quite a bit different than that,” said football coach Ben Ault.

“You don’t have the same amount of people flying around, you don’t have the same size of athletes, and I think that makes a big difference in terms of what you see when you come out here compared to what you might see on say a Sunday afternoon,” said Ault. “It’s not all about just big guys running into each other, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into football it’s more like chess than people imagine. With the time between plays and the amount of practice that goes into the different things that an offense does and the different things the defense can do to counter that.” Straying away from the more common misconceptions about the game, the interview started to move toward the objective of the game.

“Football, like most other sports, you want to outscore your opponent, and for football it’s maybe a bit different than maybe something like basketball in which you have a lot of passing which leads to a lot of scoring and in volleyball every play you do leads to a point. In football you want to offensively move down the field and into the end zone and score, and the defense essentially tries to stop the other team from doing that,” said Ault. When moving down the field you have downs and completions. A down is one of four tries to progress down the field, while a completion is every ten yards. When progressing down the field, the team has four tries to get one completion or ten yards, and if they do not get ten yards by the end of their four downs, then they give the ball to the other team.If they do get ten yards by the end of their first down, they do get another first down. If they don’t score in their four completions, then the ball goes to the other team.

When scoring there are three ways to score.One way, and the most common way, is the touchdown which is when a team essentially runs down the field and cross the goal line into the end zone and score, which is worth six points. After a touchdown the team can try what’s called a “two-point conversion”, in which the team makes a normal offensive play from the three yard line on either end of the field depending on what side they are scoring on.If they make it into the end zone that is worth two points. Another way of scoring is what’s called a “point after touchdown” or P.A.T. for short, where everyone lines up and they give the ball to a holder.The holder then throws the ball to someone who is seven yards back and kicks the ball into the goal post, which is essentially like a field goal.These two methods are both worth three points.

Moving on to different kinds of plays, there are obviously offensive and defensive plays. There are two kinds of offensive plays, being a running play or a passing play. When doing a running play the holder gives the ball to a running back to just sprint down the field and into the end zone, while the other players on the team attempt to block any defense that may be coming towards the runner. In a passing play there will be people who are standing at different positions in the field and they of course pass the ball to each other down the field. For defense plays, the defense is usually lined up and they try to protect the player running down the field. Usually people will find a higher variety in offensive plays than they would offensive plays.

“[My first practice] was awesome, everybody accepted me, I got put into a position and started practicing, nothing special, it was fun,” said freshman football player Jonas Sjodin. Going into his first game, he was very nervous.

“It was a lot to take in, a lot more than I was expecting…It was hard learning my positions, being running back and linebacker, corner, defensive end, there was a lot that I had to take in with all the plays, but it really wasn’t that hard,” said Sjodin. Sjodin also commented on his relationship to the upperclassmen.

“I look up to them, they do well, and I wanna do as well as they do,” said Sjodin.

“I was a little nervous a little excited, my brother played before me, so I really wanted to be like him,” said senior and varsity football player Sam Lennartz. He has played football since the third grade. “I was definitely nervous, I still get nervous today when I go into games,” said Lennartz.