Don't get me wrong. I know many women absolutely love football and can tell anybody anywhere why that play was awesome, what the quarterback should do to get the team out of the mess they're in, why the kickers stance is causing him to snag the ball on the goalpost and why the coach needs to be replaced next season.
And then there are those who just endure it.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I love, love, love my college team (Go Vols) and can look forward to sitting down on a Saturday with the family to watch the game. But that's because over the years I figured out what was actually happening on the field…at least enough to follow the game and get excited when I should. It makes a huge difference, trust me. If you already know the ins and outs of downs then you know way more than me. But if a football game just looks to you like a bunch of guys crashing into each other over and over, well, they are, but with purpose and the following is really all you need to know to make this Sunday's Super Bowl more than just a food fest (though that's half the fun.)
1) Pick a team. Be for that team. You have to care a little bit or there's no point. I'd suggest the Broncos! (or pick the team no one else is for so you can have some drama in the room…if its safe to do so, of course)
2) Football is played by what they call "downs." Don't know why, but you need to know that. Down= a try. The field is divided into five-yard increments as marked by the white lines running from each goal line (each end of field) to the middle (50 yard line).
3) Key to remember… The first try is called first down. A team must go 10 yards in four downs (or tries.) When the teams line up facing each other, the one that snaps the ball gets four tries to move that ball at least 10 yards down the field by running and passing. If they manage to do it, they line up and do it all again for another 4 tries to move the ball at least 10 yards. But....
4) The opposing team is of course trying to stop them. (That's all the crashing into each other.) So, more than likely, the team with the ball won't make it 10 yards. They may only make it four yards or no yards or nine and three-quarters yards and it becomes…
On this play, if they don't finish out those 10 yards it will become, third down!
If they still don't finish out those 10 yards it will become fourth down! This is crunch time. They can try to move the ball on fourth down but probably won't. More than likely here they'll kick the ball as far as they can down the field because its now the other teams turn to start this process.
And so it goes back and forth. When one team makes a touchdown they get six points and will kick for an extra point. Sometimes they make it and sometimes they don't. And, sometimes I think it's a little hard to tell on TV so here you may have to wait for someone else to cheer or groan.
Another key play is the field goal. This is when the team probably can't make a touchdown, but is close enough to the goal line that the kicker may be able to kick the ball through the goal posts. If they do, it's worth three points.
An interception is when a player passes the ball to another teammate, but a player on the other team snags it instead. A fumble is when the team literally drops the ball, and it may be a free for all to try and land on it first. This is quite entertaining.
If you can follow along with this it's enough to get you through the game and actually know what's happening. It also gives you enough knowledge to ask your boyfriend or husband or other big fan to explain what just happened.
And you may find that you start to get excited when your team breaks loose on than third down and takes off down the field for a touchdown. Or biting your nails when the game is three points apart and they decide to go for it on fourth down with only 45 seconds left to play.
And don't forget the commercials, Bruno Mars at halftime, the beer and the burgers. Happy Super Bowl and Go Peyton!