Football 101

Fall is known for the back-to-campus season, changing of the leaves, pumpkin-flavored everything, and America’s favorite pastime, football. American football is without a doubt one of the most popular sports in the country. According to ESPN, the National Football League draws the most TV ratings out of any sport, with 49% of Americans considering themselves fans. ESPN also reported of the NFL: “Its revenues climbed above $9 billion last year and the Super Bowl between Seattle and Denver in New Jersey will be the most watched television program of the year.”

How popular is this sport among college students? Many watch the games on TV, but if they are away from their couch, they watch through internet streaming and on their phones. Many utilize Twitter while watching the games to see how their friends’ teams are doing and to check for score updates for their Fantasy Football teams. A lot of students watch the games together in dorm rooms, lounges and apartments, which leads to viewing parties with chips, buffalo chicken dip, pretzels, and other delicious noms.

So what is one to do if they get invited to a viewing party and they have absolutely no clue what is happening on the TV screen, other than a bunch of men throwing around a leather, pointy ball? Well this is where this handy-dandy glossary comes in. Read below to learn about the most common terms heard during a football game.

First down: The first chance, if you will, for a team to gain as much yardage on the football field to the field goal. Each time the offensive team gains possession of the ball, they get four downs.

First down is achieved after the offensive team moves the ball 10 or more yards, and gains four more downs. If first down isn’t achieved, the offense loses possession to the other team.

Touch down: The offensive team can score 6 points if a player can carry the ball across the field goal line or caught into the end zone. Sometimes the ball is recovered from a fumble into the end zone or a kickoff that was recovered in the end zone by the kicking team.

Each touch down allows the scoring team to earn an additional point by potentially kicking a field goal.

End zone: The area on the field where the offensive team can score a touch down.

Fumble: When a football player drops the ball, allowing the other team to gain possession.

Interception: When the defense on a team gains possession of the ball from the other team’s offense.

Field goal: Three points are scored when the offense of a team kicks the football above the crossbar and between the uprights of a goalpost.

The Run: The quarterback passes the ball to a running back, who tries to gain as much yardage onthe field as possible.

Two-point conversion: Rather than kicking a field goal for one point after a touchdown, sometimes the offense will choose to run or throw the ball into the end zone to earn two points instead.

Safety: Two points are earned when an offensive player is tackled behind his own goal line and he has possession of the ball.

Snap: The center passes the ball between his legs to his teammate – the quarterback -behind him, starting the play.

Tackle: The end of the play; a player causes the player with possession of the ball to fall to the ground and they are considered down.

Quarterback: The player who typically carries the ball. He’s always the one you see at the beginning of the play that either throws the ball to another player or runs it himself.

Wide receiver: Catches the ball after it is thrown by the quarterback.

Tight end: Blocks defense and catches passes from the quarterback.

Running Back: Intercept the ball from another player on their team and run with it.

Center: This player blocks the defense and snaps the ball to the QB.

Linebackers: Try to prevent the pass from a QB by tackling them.

Defensive line: The ends and tackles oppose the offense.

Cornerbacks and Safeties: These defensive players try to stop the run by preventing the pass from the QB to the wide receiver.