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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

It’s official, we’re in football season! Football is among one of the most popular sports in America right now and has a growing popularity in other countries. Whether you are going to your first game, want to impress your crush, or have seen the Joe Burrow thirst traps on Tik Tok, you need a basic understanding of the game. 


The objective of football is to score as many points as possible and have more points than your opponent at the end of the game. Teams can score points in four different ways. The first is to carry or catch the ball in the opponent’s end zone. This is called a touchdown and is the main way teams earn points. A touchdown is worth six points. After a touchdown teams can decide to either kick for one extra point or go for a two-point conversion. A two-point conversion basically means that instead of kicking through the goalpost teams try running the ball into the end zone for two extra points. The next scoring method is a field goal. This becomes an option if the team with the ball is close to the end zone but unable to score. Field goals are worth three points and can be kicked from anywhere on the field. The fourth and most uncommon method of scoring is a safety. This occurs when the offense commits a foul in their end zone, fumbles the ball out of their end zone or if they are tackled into the end zone.


Football is divided into four quarters. High school has a twelve minute quarter well college and the NFL have fifteen minute quarters. However there is no way football can stick to just a fifteen minute quarter. They have to take time for two minute timeouts, penalties, and injuries. In reality a quarter can take anywhere from forty five minutes to an hour. That means a full four quarter football game can be three to four hours if teams don’t tie and go into overtime. There is also a long break after the first two quarters called halftime. During halftime cheerleaders, dance teams, and marching bands will perform. During the Super Bowl famous musicians will play. 

The Down System

Football has an interesting system called the “down” system. This means teams have four chances to run the ball ten yards towards the opponents end zone. If a team is successful at moving ten yards in those four chances they are awarded another four downs. This is called a first down. If a team can not make a first down then the ball gets turned over to the opposing team. 


On field there are always eleven players from both teams making a total of twenty two players on the field at all times. Football has three different units of teams : the offense, defense, and special teams. 


An offensive team is made up of a quarterback, five offensive linemen, two wide receivers, a running back, a full back, and a tight end. The quarterback is the most important player out of the offensive line. They represent the coach on the field and all plays are called through the quarterback. The quarterback always has to be positioned behind the offensive linemen. That is because the offensive lineman are there to protect the quarterback and make sure he can’t get sacked. A sack is where the defense tackles the quarterback. In front of the quarterback there is a center who snaps the ball back to the quarterback then goes straight into trying to make sure no one gets to the quarterback. The wide receivers split out onto the farthest sides of the field well running towards the end zone trying to get a touchdown. A running back stays behind the quarterback and is there if the quarterback wants to hand off the ball instead of throwing it. A fullback is basically a running back but larger in size. A tight end combines the offensive linemen and wide receiver characteristics. Their role depends on the plays, preferences, and philosophy of the head coach and the offensive coordinator. When lining up the offense must stay behind the line of scrimmage. This means there is a horizontal line through the ball and the offense can not cross that line. If they do it results in a penalty. The offense’s main job is to score. 


The defense is trying to stop the offense from scoring. They do this by sacking a quarterback, stop passing attempts, and tackle whoever is carrying the ball. The defensive line is made up of one to two defensive tackles, one or two defensive end, linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties. The defensive linemen are made up of the defensive tackles, defensive ends and linebackers. Defensive tackles are in the middle with the defensive ends on the outside of them. They are the ones tackling the offensive lineman. A linebacker does a multitude of jobs like rushing the quarterback, stopping running backs, or covering the tight ends and wide receivers. The defensive linemen are the first source of defense. Cornerbacks cover the wide receivers. The last possible line of defense is the safeties. Their jobs also vary but they will most commonly assist the cornerbacks in covering the wide receivers. Which is called “double coverage”. The defense also looks to intercept plays, forcing the offense to fumble the ball. They want to find a way to steal possession of the ball. 

Special Teams

Well defense and offense use their hands most the special teams use their feet. They come onto the field for kick off, field goal, punt, or receiving a kick off. Special teams include a kicker, punter, holder, long snapper, kick returner, punt returner, gunner, and personal protector. The NFL can only put up a 53 man roster and dress 46 for games. Anybody that isn’t on offensive or defense is most likely to contribute to special teams. The quarterback is the only player not allowed on special teams. The kicker is most important on special teams because they score the extra points and field goals. Punters will punt the ball way into the offensive side. Punters are brought out during the fourth down and can sway the game in certain directions. A long snapper specializes in snapping the ball for field goals. A holder can be anyone on the team but the quarterback and they hold the ball for the kicker. Gunners are part of the punting unit and break out like wide receivers to try and tackle. Personal protectors are also part of the punting team and are there to tackle rushers that make it past the line. The personal protector is the leadership of the punting team. They will ensure personnel are correct, call blocking assignments, and even call the snapping count. 

This is the very basics of football. Things get more complicated when assigning numbers, penalties, and rules. Learning all the rules takes time and no one expects you to memorize them right away. However this should put you on the right path. Now go out there girl boss football season.

Brooke Johnson is a first year member and writer at the HerCampus Florida International Chapter. She is still figuring out what types of articles she wants to specialize in. Beyond HerCampus Brooke works part-time at TJMaxx. She has also submitted creative writing pieces to her high schools literary magazine but none of them were published. She also has a website with all her favorite creative writing pieces. She is majoring in English-Creative Writing at Florida International University. In her free time, Brooke loves to read and is starting to go to the gym. She also does Color Guard. She has been spinning for eight years both in marching band and winter guard. She is currently marching with the FIU panther band. Brooke loves listening to Taylor Swift and has extensive knowledge of her entire life.