When I was born in Texas, I inherited most of the typical Texan traits—I say “fixin’ to,” I drink sweet tea, I can spot good breakfast tacos from miles away. But there was one very crucial element to being in Texas that I never seemed to get. I don’t like football. *Gasps*
Now this was okay in high school when my constantly losing team wasn’t exactly very important, but when I got to college and stayed in-state it was suddenly a much bigger problem. Here in Texas, football is practically its own religion, and when you are as clueless about the sport as me, it can get a little awkward. Sure, I don’t like football, but everyone around me seems to, and in order to continue being a supportive friend and girlfriend, it became very clear that I was going to have to figure out the game. And so, for all you other girls out there just trying to make it through the very confusing time that is football season, I present the ultimate guide to faking your way through and making it seem as though you know exactly what you’re talking about (when you in fact know very little about what’s going on)!
Part I: The Point of the Game
Even looking at the field, football is confusing. Other sports have a ball that looks like a ball and a net of some sort that they try to put it in every time. Not football. The point of the game is to take the football (which looks neither like a foot nor a ball) and get it towards the end zone, marked by the giant fork looking thing sticking in the air (the goal posts).
On the side of the field there will be giant orange number sticks. The one with the target marks where the first down is. A team gets four shots to get to the the spot marked by the orange stick.
Eventually the team should get to the end zone, which is six points (touch down!). The team then kicks the ball through the goal posts for an extra point. But if the team doesn’t make it to the end zone by the fourth time trying to get to the spot marked by the orange stick, they can still kick the football for a field goal and get three points.
It’s slightly more complicated than a regular sport where they just try to score one point at a time in the same way each time, but if you can at least understand the basic premise, you’re off to a good start!
Part II: Positions
This is where things get a bit trickier. Football has many different positions that shift around, get called different things, and do the same job but in ever-so-slightly different ways. When it feels like people are speaking in tongues when referencing football, it’s probably because of this. These are the basics to keep up with the announcers and conversations.
Offensive: Quarterback (the main superstar who throws the ball), running back (he stands behind the quarterback and runs with the ball), wide receivers (they catch the ball), line men (they don’t catch the ball but they’re big and they protect the quarterback).
Defensive: Defensive line (when you see a big pile of giant, aggressive guys, just call it the line, because their individual tasks blend together and they just hit each other), line backers (these guys are behind the line of people hitting each other, but they also tackle people), defensive backs (they stand behind the line backers and intercept passes).
Special: Kicker (the guy who kicks for the field goal point), punter (the guy who basically also just kicks the ball, but not for points, just for the other team to catch and deal with), holder (Lucy’s job when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football—only they don’t pull it away).
Following me so far? Good, because here are the bonus cheats to really blend right in!
Part III: Tips and Tricks
1. Before whatever game you’re watching, look up the name of the quarterback for the team you and your friends will be supporting. Learn the name, it will be used more than any other, and if you can also use it and comment on the player, you will blend in. Yeah, the other players will probably come up, and may at times be more important, but just like how the drummer in a band might be the most talented, people still spend the most time talking about the lead singer.
2. You’ll know a penalty got called when the referees wearing the zebra-looking shirts blow whistles and come to the middle of the field, or a flag is thrown. That’s when you say that it was holding. Because it is almost always holding. The average football fan only has a vague understanding of penalties anyways, so even if you are way off base for some reason, they’ll probably agree with you anyways and think you are very intelligent for knowing about penalties.
3. Know when to get irrationally angry. If the ball is in your guy’s hand and he drops it, get angry. If the kicker is close to the goal and he misses, get angry. Pretty much any time the referee calls out your team, get angry.
4. Watch your mouth! Nothing kills your credibility more than incorrect terminology. They’re uniforms, not costumes. It’s a field, not a stage. It’s a game, not a show.
5. Just wait for the important parts, like when Peruna, our glorious mascot, runs across the field. That means the Mustangs have scored and you have full liberty to go crazy in appreciation for our awesome school!
So there, you have it, the absolute basics to get through football season seeming like you understand it all!