So, I've been watching my son's games this year with very little interest. I spend my time trying to spot his number amid the jumble of boys on the field. I've had no idea what the boys were doing out there, nor have I cared. I've been content to look on in oblivion, however, the football-crazed fans in the bleachers feel this need to
"See Dawn, what your son did there is he broke through the line and sacked the quarterback. That means he ran past all those guys and knocked down that guy with the ball before he could pass (that means throw) it to a receiver. Did you know the term "quarterback sack" was first used by Hall of Famer, Deacon Jones? Dawn? Dawn?"
"I'm sorry. Did you say something?"
If you don't want to be forced to learn the game, do not let them see the glazed expression in your eyes because that just makes football nuts want to explain things to you in more detail. Instead, pretend to have a clue what's going on. When everyone else cheers, clap! When people stand up and shout, join them! When people look puzzled and start asking each other what just happened, loudly shout, "Aha! See? Even football fanatics don't understand this stupid game!" I mean, look confused and mumble something like, "I'm not sure what just happened," then look intently in the direction of the field as if you're trying to overhear what the refs are saying.
This is what I've learned so far (despite my most earnest attempts to ignore all the explanations.) If you don't understand football and for some deranged reason, want to know what it's all about, read on. Because I'm just so awesome and I love pleasing my readers, I'll enlighten you with my extensive football knowledge.
The game is played on a field that's 100 yards long and, hmmm, I don't really know how many yards wide it is, but it doesn't matter because the players only run back and forth across the width of the field to get drinks of Gatorade and to be slapped on the helmet and the butt by their coaches. There are white stripes every 5 yards that run the length of the field.
The whole idea of the game is for the team to move the ball down the length of the field. They're given 4 chances to move the ball 10 yards. They call these chances downs just to make things more complicated. The white stripes let you know how far they've moved the ball. Plus, they're helpful when you're trying to point out which player is your son. "He's the one standing there hugging that other player on the 40 yard line."
At each end of the field are end zones. The end zones are there so the players have a place to dance after making a touchdown. The end zone is also the zoned-out look that crosses my face at the end of the fourth inning.
A football game is divided into four, 15 minute long, quarters, but football games last about two hours. Now, I'm not mathy, but even I know that doesn't add up. The reason is because they stop the clock everytime someone drops the ball, picks up the ball, kicks the balls, looks at the ball, puts the ball down, throws the ball, runs with the ball, scores, goes out-of-bounds, gets hurt, drops a hanky on the field, wants to talk to the coach, or needs to tie his shoe. Plus there's a 15 minute break at halftime so the coaches can yell at the players, the cheerleaders can put on a show and smile and giggle at the football players, and you can grab another beer.
During these 4 quarters, the players try to run with the ball until the other team jumps on them and squashes them and covers their jerseys with grass stains and mud. Sometimes they try to throw the ball and catch it before the other team jumps on them and squashes them and covers their jerseys with grass stains and mud. Sometimes they try to kick the ball until the other team jumps on them and squashes them and covers their jerseys with grass stains and mud. (There's a lot of jumping, smashing, squashing, smacking, crunching helmets, and grass stains and mud.)
A team scores by running or throwing the ball into the end zone. That's called a touchdown. This is followed by a little dance. If the dance is good enough, the judges give that team an extra point. They can get points for doing other stuff too, but it's too complicated to understand. If you see your team's score suddenly jump up by another point or two, just clap.
Sometimes players do bad things and the referees throw their hankies on the field to protest. For example, when the players all line up with their butts in the air, the goal is to not be the first person to move. It's like a game of chicken and the first person to move gets a hanky thrown at them and then the ref moves the ball back just to tick off the guy who moved first. Sometimes players do other bad things. The ref will throw his hanky on the ground like a princess waiting for a handsome gentleman to pick it up for her. Then he'll make a bunch of gestures signaling the player to steal third.
In the end, the team with the most points wins. And now you know all about football. Check back tomorrow and I'll post a glossary of helpful football terms.
* I just had Jackson read my post. He shook his head and walked away, saying I could just drop him off at his game this weekend and I really don't have to stay.