Girls’ Guide to Football

In American society, football has become so prevalent, and Sunday’s are typically recognized as a day dedicated to watching football on the couch. In Maryland, football has become a very prominent conversation, since the Baltimore Ravens are kicking butt this season. With playoffs around the corner after the holiday season, I thought I would help some of the women out there who want to follow the rest of the season and learn the game. 

Photo courtesy to @ravens on Instagram 

Recruiting and operations intern with Maryland Football, Alana Tauber, is immersed in football on a daily basis.

“For my job, it was vital I knew how the game was played,” she said. “Not only did it help advance me as an intern understanding it, but it made watching the game a lot more fun.”

Let’s get an understanding for the people playing the game. The NFL is split into two conferences: the American Football conference and the National Football Conference, according to the NFL website. Within each conference, there are four divisions, which each hold four teams.  

Although there are more than 11 people on a team, only 11 players from each team will be on the field at once. The field is 100-yds long, and there are endzones on both ends of the field where a team can score. The game is split into four quarters, which are each 15-min long. From watching, we clearly know it typically exceeds 15-min due to timeouts, penalties and other miscellaneous factors such as injuries. 

Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

So, let’s start with the offense.

The offense consists of the quarterback, who essentially is the most important man on the team -- he is a playmaker. The offense is given four chances, which in football terminology is a “down,” to get at least 10-yds closer to their endzone. For example, if “third and eight” is called, this means the offensive team is on their third down, and they have eight yards to go until their next down. 

After their run is completed, it’s time for the next down. When the whistle blows and the play begins, the quarterback is thrown the ball from a player known as the center. The quarterback’s job at this point is to get the ball to an open player, who is typically a wide receiver, running back or tight-end. Their goal is to get the ball in the endzone for a touchdown, which is worth six points.

However, touchdowns are not the only way the offense can score. Listed below are the ways the offense can score in a game.

Touchdown - when the football is caught or ran into the endzone by the offensive team who has possession. This is worth six points.

Extra Point - After a touchdown, the kicker will attempt to kick the ball through the goal post for an extra point.

Two Point Conversion - an option chosen after a touchdown to get two extra points. The team will attempt to run the ball into the endzone from the second yard line.  

Field Goal - A team can decide to kick a field goal if they do not believe they will be able to complete a touchdown. The kicker will attempt to kick the ball through the goal post for three points.

Now that offense is covered, let’s move onto defense. 

Regardless if there was a touchdown or not, after the fourth down it’s the defense’s turn to kick the ball. An important thing to note is that the offensive line and defensive line do not consist of the same players.

The goal of the defense is pretty simple - do not let the other team score. They prevent touchdowns by “rushing the offense,” which basically means to cover them and sometimes tackle them. They also attempt to intercept the ball. If this happens, the possession is given to the defense regardless of which down the offense is on. 

There are many more little rules to the game, but hopefully this will give you guys a good understanding of the basics and to know this game is not just for men. It’s important to know we have some boss women out there making their strides in the football world as well.

More and more women have been trying to get involved in the game, and some have even succeeded. Carli Llyod, a renowned American soccer player with two Olympic gold medals, is attempting to break through the NFL barrier. This past summer, she even had a visit with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to The Guardian.  

Photo courtesy of Matt Rouke on The Guardian 

On a smaller scale, Lucy Cappadona, senior at Marlboro High School in Marlboro, Massachusetts, was her school football team’s kicker this season. 

“I was more nervous if anything to be the only girl,” Cappadona said. “As I got to know the kids I came out of my shell, and they all made me feel like one of them. All in all, it was so much fun and such a cool experience for me.” 

There are many more little rules to the game, but hopefully this will give you guys a good understanding of the basics and to know this game is not just for men.