Playin' on Purple: Football at its simplest

I love sports. I know sports. I have played many different sports, and I have watched a great many more. Because I have been around sports for so long, I know enough about all of them that I can get by. But I wouldn’t say that I am the biggest sports expert, because I am definitely not.

Every sport is different and slightly complicated in its own way. I have at least a half a dozen people a week tell me they know absolutely nothing about sports. So, what I have decided to do is break down each sport. Hopefully by the end of the year, everyone will have a little more sport knowledge.

This past weekend was the opening weekend of college football season, and this weekend is the first official weekend of the NFL. This week, my sports-made-easy column will be on FOOTBALL! Football is a very complicated game. Here are some basic terms to help you sit down and enjoy the game.

I understand that, for a lot of people, this might seem cheesy or ridiculous (which is fine; it’s kind of what I am going for), and then there are some who might find it helpful. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

FIELD: 100 yards long. It’s divided into 10-yard increments. At each end of the field is an end zone.

TEAM: The team is allowed to have 11 players on the field at one time, whether that is offense or defense.

TOUCHDOWN: When a team gets the ball in the end zone. Each touchdown is worth six points. The team has the chance to kick the ball for an extra point or try to get the ball back in the end zone for two extra points.

FIELD GOAL: Another scoring opportunity. The kicker kicks the ball between the giant fork-looking thing to get three points.

DOWN: When a team gets possession of the ball, they have four chances to get the ball 10 yards towards the end zone. Every time the team moves the ball 10 yards, they get another four chances. The chances are called downs. It’s a good thing if a team gets a FIRST DOWN. That means the team made it the 10 yards and gets another go.

Without fail, when watching a game, a person will hear the announcer say something like, “It’s second a seven for the Wildcats.” The first number said in this phrase is the down they are on. So in this example, the ’Cats are on their second chance or down to get their 10 yards. The next number is the number of yards they have to go before they get the 10 yards. This example says they have seven yards to go before they get another first down.

QUARTERBACK: The quarterback is the guy who facilitates every play. He is the one who makes all the passes and handoffs. He literally gets the ball rolling.

LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: That is the line where the football is placed to begin each play. The line of scrimmage is determined at the end of every play. Whenever a person gets tackled or goes out of bounds, that is where the line of scrimmage will be for the next play. A player cannot pass the line of scrimmage until the quarterback has initiated the play.

NFL: Stands for National Football League. It is the professional football league here in the United States of America.

INTERCEPTION: When a team catches a pass thrown by the opposing team’s quarterback. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending what team you are rooting for.

That really is as simply as I could break it down. There is a lot more you could learn that gets into lengthy explanations. This is very simple and very, very basic, but it should get the job done.