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A Girl’s Guide to Football

Do you ever wish you could turn to the cute boy sitting next to you at the Bearcats football game, but struggle with what to say?  Some girls know a lot about sports, while others are not as familiar. Maybe at one point boys thought it was “adorable” when girls asked them question after question about what was going on, but anymore, it seems that most guys will want a girl who can keep up with what is going on in front of them, and be just as into the game as they are. Don’t feel bad if your sports knowledge isn’t extensive—you’re not alone! Here are some basic rules and facts every girl (and boy for that matter) should know about football.

1. The basic positions. There are a few key positions everyone should be familiar with. The most key player on any team is the quarterback. He is responsible for coordinating the entire offense and calls all the plays. He is the one to either throw a pass or pass the ball off to a runningback. The runningback’s position is pretty self-explanatory: the quarterback hands the runningback the ball, and he runs with it up the field.

Another important offensive position is the wide receivers, who are responsible for running down the field, getting open and catching the ball thrown to them by the quarterback.

The defense consists of the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs. The purpose of the entire defense is to stop the offense from going down the field and scoring.

Quarterback Gunnier Kiel (photo by ESPN)

2.  The way scoring works. Scoring in football is not too complicated, but definitely takes some getting used to. For example, let’s say the Bearcats are playing Miami. When the Bearcats score in Miami’s end zone, it is called a touchdown and has the value of six points. After the touchdown is scored, the team has the opportunity to try for an extra point in the form of kicking a field goal. After a touchdown is scored, it’s pretty safe to assume your team will receive the full seven points. (That is, unless it’s Shayne Graham kicking for the Bengals.) Occasionally, a team will go for two extra points—in this case, they have to run a play to make it into the end zone in order to receive the two points. Another common way to score is by kicking a field goal, worth three points.

3.  Driving to the end zone. When the Bearcats have the ball and are trying to score, the series of plays they conduct is a term commonly called a ‘drive’. In football, you have four “downs” to get a first down, or, in other words, four plays to get 10 yards. If you get a first down, you get a new set of four plays to try to keep advancing. If the Bearcats were to run three plays and still need three yards to get a first down, they may decide to punt the ball or try for a field goal (or touchdown if they are close enough). The reason for this is, if the Bearcats did not get a first down or score on the fourth play, then the other team gets the ball wherever the last play occurred.

4.  Flags and penalties. Sometimes you will see these colored flags thrown on the field. A yellow flag is thrown by the referee and means a penalty has been given to either the offense or defense. These penalties often result in more or less yards for a team. However, do not get worried if you do not understand what all the penalties mean—even football experts do not fully understand those rules. Occasionally, you will see a red flag tossed out by a coach. That is called a ‘challenge’. An example of a challengeable situation would be if the Bearcats were trying to run the ball into the end zone for a touchdown but the referee said the runningback did not make it into the end zone. If a coach believes that the runningback did in fact make it in, he can throw the red flag and the referees will do an official review on the instant replay. If the referee finds that the player did in fact make a touchdown, UC receives the points and the crowd goes wild! If the ref finds, however, that the runningback still did not make it into the end zone, UC loses a timeout.

Photo by Chat Sports

While I hope this guide helped, don’t stress if you cannot spew out football facts left and right! Knowing the basics will get you far. By understanding the basics of football, I guarantee you will find yourself more invested in the games, and learning more and more each time you watch. So when the next home game rolls around, do not be afraid to turn that cutie next to you and comment on what a great run into the end zone that was! GO CATS!

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Olivia Angel


Communication and PR major at the University of Cincinnati. Split my time between my sorority and modeling in NYC and Chicago
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