American football is one of the most popular sports in the world. It’s a game that captures the hearts and minds of millions of fans worldwide. From the excitement of the Super Bowl to the passion of high school football games, there’s something about this sport that brings people together. As the football world prepares for opening day we will explore football, its rules and regulations, and why it continues to be one of the most beloved sports in the world.
Football can be an exciting sport to watch and play — but it can also be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it. Let’s start with a basic understanding of the game. Over the next few weeks, we will continue our football journey discussing positions and types of play.
The goal of football? It’s pretty simple: to outscore the opposing team. Players score points in football by getting the ball across the goal line into the end zone, either by throwing and catching the ball, running it in or kicking it through the field goal posts for a field goal. Football games have four quarters of play, each consisting of 15 minutes. However, games typically last about three hours, with frequent stoppages in time due to timeouts, breaks between quarters, pauses in between possessions, and more.
A standard football field is 120 yards long, rectangular in shape, and can be made of grass or turf. The field of play is a little more than 50 yards wide and exactly 100 yards long, with two 10-yard end zones on either end. These end zones are the scoring areas on the field — each team attempts to score by carrying the ball into the end zone (either by running or catching).
Just beyond each end zone are field goal posts, through which the team can kick field goals. The goal line is the line on the field that separates the end zone from the field of play. When the football crosses the goal line, by a throw or run, that is worth six points and is known as a touchdown. Following a touchdown, you can kick an extra point, worth one point, or you can go for a two-point conversion, where you basically have to score a touchdown again but from the 2-yard line. Extra points are kicked from the 15-yard line. If a team is unable to score a touchdown in four downs, on the fourth down, they can kick a field goal through the goal posts, which is worth three points. Any kick must go through the uprights to count for points.
Football begins with a kickoff. The team that kicks the ball off will be playing defense, while the receiving team plays offense. The receiving team catches the ball at kickoff and tries to run it down the field as far as they can before being stopped by the kicking team. After the kickoff play, the respective offensive and defensive players come onto the field for both teams. The receiving team may also get a touchback, which is when they catch the ball in the end zone and take a knee, or when the ball is kicked beyond the end zone. When this happens, the offense automatically starts their drive down the field at the 25-yard line.
The offensive team has four chances or plays, known as ‘downs,’ to gain 10 yards. As soon as 10 yards are gained, even if it’s on second down, it resets the downs so the offense again has four chances to gain another 10 yards.
The goal of the defense is to stop the offense from getting 10 yards in four downs by tackling ball carriers, breaking up passes, or intercepting passes. The defense can also cause the offense to “fumble” or drop the ball, and then the defense can pick up the ball themselves and play an offensive role by running it toward their end zone for a change in possession and a touchdown.
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