HC Lehigh's Guide to Understand Football (and Owning Your Love of It)

As the second week of September approaches, so does the sweet sound of tackling, trash talking, and touchdowns. Tonight kicks off the seventeen weeks that make up the National Football League season. If you are like me, the excitement you have for the first game cannot be tamed by that Biology test tomorrow morning, or your Biochemistry problem set, except for when you are asked the wonderfully condescending question of, “YOU like football?” Why, yes. Yes, I do. And to be perfectly clear, I do not like football for the opportunity to impress boys, or for staring at the “tight ends”.

I’m a girl, and I really do love the game of football: the anticipation of seeing my favorite team run onto the field, watching the perfect spiral sail through the air, hearing the bone crushing, blood curdling sound of a sack, seeing the wild emotions of the players, and all of that footbally goodness. To the girls out there who do not exactly understand the rules of football, but want to learn the basics, here are some fundamentals you should know:

  • Quarterback – An offensive player under center who orchestrates the team’s offensive plays.
  • First Down – The offense has 4 tries to advance 10 yards to get a first down (1st & 10).
  • Touchdown – 6 points. An offensive player handling the ball crosses the goal line to get into the end zone and score.
  • Extra Point – 1 point. After a touchdown, the kicker tries for an extra point from the 15-yard line.
  • Field Goal - 3 points. A field goal is done when a team has run out of downs, and aren’t close enough to try for a touchdown, but the team is close enough for the kicker to try and kick the ball through the goalpost.
  • Interception – A defensive player catches a forward pass that was intended for an offensive player.
  • Fumble – A player with control of the ball loses it before he is tackled.
  • Sack – The quarterback is tackled before he can make a forward pass.

With these rules under your belt, you should be able to get through a game with a better understanding. And if you still don’t like football, you can join a large majority of girls who are just not interested in the sport.

While understanding the rules does help, there is still a gender stereotype that comes along with enjoying football. “Girl” isn’t one of the first, or second, or even fifteenth words that come to mind when you think about the game. But if you are like me and love it, you know the ridicule, and teasing that comes along with it. To get people to understand how much I like (and know) about football, I always feel like I have to prove myself worthy by spewing facts and stating obscure rules. As a girl, just to get into the conversation, you need to know more than your average boy.

Gender is constantly being reestablished from the general population, pop culture, and interpersonal relationships. We are no longer in a society that fits gender into perfect little boxes where girls like pink and boys like blue. Gender defined lines are continually becoming blurred, so don’t be afraid to put on your favorite jersey and go crazy for your team! Whether you need the football rules or not, be proud of what you love. There’s no rule telling you what you appreciate is wrong, so don’t listen to people who tell you that’s not “girly” enough because honestly, who cares?

Have fun watching the game tonight, ladies. As a Patriot’s fan, I know I will!