Question about football

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    So someone I know is happy that the Cincinnatti Bengals made it to the semifinals.

    I was forced to wait in a place the other day, where said football game was playing on TV.

    So here are my questions: There is only one football, right? Everyone lines up by color/team and the ball, I imagine, is in the middle. Then everyone starts fighting. Where does the ball go? And if everyone is trying to get the ball, why aren’t they just following it? Why are there groups of two and three fighting? Shouldn’t they all be fighting in one pack, with the person who actually has the one ball?

    What are all the other little groups of people fighting for?

    I would like to not sound entirely stupid on dates. Thank you.


    No, you are getting the game all wrong.

    There are two footballs. And there are 4 teams.

    The 4 teams are divided into two groups, and there is a sort of alliance between the teams withing the two groups.

    The purpose of the game is to get the football to the other end of the field, and throw it down on the ground hard. This is called a touchdown.

    But the rules are, that you are only allowed to run with the ball, or catch the ball, if there are at least 2 people from your team (your actual team, not your group), within 20 feet of you. That is why you see the little groups fighting and running this way and that way–they are trying to arrange to have 2 of them within the 20 feet.

    Here is where the alliance comes in–both teams within the group get points when a member of that group does a touchdown. So they try to help each other have the requisite 2 members. However, the points are not awarded evenly. Each touchdown wins you 3 points and the team which actually did it gets 2 while the other team gets only 1. But, then the team which got 1 gets to try to throw the ball through the upright poles in order to get 1 point. This is called “punting”, because one team in the group “punts” it to the other team in the group allowing them to get 2 points and hoping they will make it up by throwing it through the uprights. (You are also allowed to kick it through the uprights, and that is called a “kick-off”.)

    Now, there are two balls, as I mentioned, and both balls are being played with by all the teams at the same time. On TV, they only show one at a time obviously, but that is how sometimes the score can change by more than 4 very quickly.

    There are some other things; I’ll mention just a few.

    “Out of bounds”. That is when one group is winning by a lot, and they begin to turn against each other, since they are really the threat to each other. This is called playing “out of bounds” because you are supposed to play as a group.

    “Interception”. This is when one team within the group pretends they are helping the other team within their group, but then one of them sneaks in and grabs the ball.

    “Instant replay”. This is when you do the same play again right away, figuring the other group won’t be expecting it. They usually show it on TV in slow motion, because they want you to see how similar it it.

    There are also bludgers and quaffles, but that is very involved, and they aren’t always used in every game.


    What’s the difference between football and soccer and how are they different between the U.S. and Europe?


    Everyone lines up by color/team and the ball, I imagine, is in the middle.

    It starts in the middle but subsequent plays start where the previous one ended.

    Then everyone starts fighting. Where does the ball go?

    That’s not how it works in Football. One team has possesion of the ball and their aim is to get it to the goal. The other team’s aim is to take possesion of the ball for the next play.

    Shouldn’t they all be fighting in one pack, with the person who actually has the one ball?

    No, an all-out attack on whoever has the ball would leave other players open and whoever had the ball would just pass it to an open player.




    11 players from each team on field

    Four 15min quarters

    Three time-outs per half for each team

    12min half-time

    15min sudden-death overtime if scores are tied

    The purpose of the game is to move the ball towards, and ultimately into, the opposition’s end zone.

    This is achieved by either running with the ball until tackled, or throwing the ball downfield to a team-mate.


    Downs are the most fundamental, and confusing, part of the NFL rulebook.

    The attacking team, or offence, needs to move the ball forward in chunks of at least 10 yards, which is why the pitch has yardage markings.

    They have four chances, or downs, to gain those 10 yards.

    When the ball has advanced that far anotherfirst down is earned, with four more chances to go a further 10 yards.

    If the offensive team fails to move 10 yards within four downs, possession is surrendered, although the ball is usually kicked, or punted, to the defending team on fourth down.

    While most scoring comes from near the defending team’s end zone, a touchdown can be scored from anywhere on the field, and on any down.


    These are the complicated movements involving all 11 players teams use to move the ball downfield.

    Plays are called by the head coach or quarterback, who is the attacking lynchpin of any team.

    While the term usually refers to attacking teams, defending teams also use set plays to stop their opponents’ forward movement.

    The offensive team has 30 seconds to get the ball in play or kick a field goal.


    Touchdown (six points)

    A touchdown is scored when a team crosses the opposition’s goal line with the ball, or catches or collects the ball in the end zone.

    Field goal (three points)

    These are usually attempted on fourth down if the kicker is close enough to the end zone to kick the ball through the posts, or uprights.

    Extra point (one or two points)

    A point is earned by kicking the ball through the uprights after a touchdown (similar to a rugby conversion). Two points are earned by taking the ball into the end zone again.

    Safety (two points)

    Awarded to the defensive team when a member of the offensive team is tackled with the ball in his own end zone.


    Although there are only 11 players from each side on the field at any one time, an American football team is made up of 45 players, ranging in size, speed and their roles within the team.

    The offence

    A team’s attacking players who attempt to move the ball forward and score touchdowns.

    The key man is the quarterback.

    On the quarterback’s signal, the centre snaps the ball back between his legs to the QB (similar to rugby league’s play-the-ball).

    A typical offensive line-up

    The quarterback can then either run with the ball, hand it to a running back, or pass it downfield to one of his receivers.

    1 & 11 Wide receivers

    2 & 6 Tackles

    3 & 5 Guards

    4 Centre

    7 Tight end

    8 Quarterback

    9 Fullback

    10 Running back

    The plays used by the quarterback can either be pre-arranged or improvised to take advantage of the game’s changing shape.

    The defence

    The role of the defence is to stop the other team from scoring by tackling the ball-carrier, intercepting passes or causing fumbles.

    A ‘3-4’ defensive set-up

    The defence is made up of big, powerful players trying to stop the other team from running the ball, and fast, athletic players trying to prevent the quarterback’s passes from reaching his receivers.

    The defence’s power players also attempt to tackle, or sack, the quarterback before he has thrown the ball, while any defender can cause a fumble by knocking the ball from a ball-carrier’s grasp.

    1 & 3 – Cornerbacks

    2 – Free safety

    4, 5, 6, 7 – Linebackers

    8 – Strong safety

    9 & 11 – Defensive ends

    10 – Nose, or defensive, tackle

    Special teams

    Responsible for all plays involving kicks or punts.

    Special teams play a small but vital role. They come onto the field to execute field goal or extra point attempts, and when the team wants to punt the ball downfield on fourth down.

    They are also responsible for trying to block the opposition’s kicks and punts, as well as attempting to return them as far as possible in the other direction.

    From bbc news sports


    What’s the difference between football and soccer and how are they different between the U.S. and Europe?

    What Americans call “soccer” is called football in the rest of the world. The called “football” in America is a totally different game. For purposes of this discussion, we will use the American terms.

    Soccer is played with a round ball. The players are allowed to kick the ball or hit it with other body parts (primarily the head), but are not allowed to touch it with their hands. The object is to get the ball into the net at the end of the field. Each time your team does that it gets a point.

    Football is played with an oval ball. The ball is either carried or thrown. The object is to get it to the end of the field. Someone can carry it there, or someone can throw it to someone already waiting there to catch it. When that happens it is called a touchdown and gets the team six points.

    The team that is in control of the ball gets four tries (called “downs”) to move the ball 10 yards closer to the end zone. If they don’t do it, they lose control. If they are down to the last down, and don’t think they can make it, they kick the ball. That is called “punting.” If it goes through the posts on the end zone, that is a field goal and is worth three points.

    The team also gets to kick the ball toward the goal posts after a touchdown. If they get it through, they get another point.

    Don’t listen to popa.


    Don’t listen to popa.

    Sure, see how far that gets you. I bet you don’t even know what a soccer ball is.

    Soccer is played with a round ball.

    Do you mean it is a spherical ball? Because a round ball would be a flat round disc.

    (Only bec Haifa always corrects grammar)


    haifagirl, your description of the game was excellent, but really?- “don’t listen to popa?” Why? His game sounded like a lot of fun.

    What i wanted to know was- where can i watch a game?


    Canada and Australia call it soccer, much like the U.S.


    Australia and Canada have their own versions of Football. the Canadian Football league plays a game similar to the US football

    Australian Rules football is a totally different game most like Rugby and almost unrecognizable to Americans Canadians or Europeans


    the op seems to be describing football the way it is played in yeshiva playgrounds everywhere.

    just my hapence

    If you want to know about how to play football, ask an Englishman. We invented the game, we get to decide what it’s called. It is not called ‘soccer’, that’s a daft name for a sport. What you lot play is properly known as ‘rugby for wimps’. Football, as its name suggests, is played by kicking a ball, not throwing it or battering people who happen to be within 20 yards of it for no discernible reason. The game flows and doesn’t have to stop every 37 seconds for advertising breaks and a coffee, and also pits just one team against one team (though substitutions are allowed)instead of rotating teams within teams to play other bits of teams from within the other team. And if you should wish to play rugby, no need for all that padding just go at each other and have done with. And if you should need to call a try a ‘touch-down’, please ensure that the ball actually does ‘touch-down’ and isn’t simply carried over a line. The end.



    Some had called it Soc for short which became the word Soccer. The world soccer comes from England and not the US

    frummy in the tummy

    Soccer is boring. The end.

    just my hapence

    zdad and frummy – Sorry my tongue-in-cheek post was read in a different light to the one in which it was written. Btw, I have never come across the ‘soccer’ short for ‘association’ etymology before. Do you have a source?



    you can google it, Association Football and Rugby became popular in the UK about the same time in the 1850’s and Soccer became shorthand slang for Assocation Football.

    Funny the British dont want to admit that Soccer is a British word and not an american word

    just my hapence

    zdad – First, if you’re going to abbreviate my SN, then it’s JMH (not JMP). 😉

    Second, I did as suggested and did a quick google. Hopped around a few etymology sites and it does seem like the origin of the word soccer is as you suggested, but is not from the 1850’s – according to most sites I found it dates to 1896 and the story attributing it to an Englishman is likely apocryphal. The word football as describing the sport from which modern Association Football derives dates back to the Middle-Ages (earliest reference is 1280). It seems (according to a few sites I found) that the word soccer was actually a reference to the associations themselves and not the game, and was attributed to the game by your lot across the pond. So, all in all, it seems fairly clear that football was always the name of the game. It may be that some people called the game itself soccer much later (a good 40 years after Association Football became codified and popularised) or that the nickname given to the associations was applied to the game. Either way, we invented the game and we decided to call it football. So there :-p.


    Thanks Popa. I know that quaffles and bludgers are in Quidditch, so that clued me in. 🙂

    Dash – thanks, but still confused.

    WIY: As usual, you can be counted on to provide an extremely detailed explanation of anything and everything. 🙂 The problem is, I can’t handle all those details at once, my brain finds it more confusing than calculus.

    Anyone with Popa’s readable explanation but WIY’s level of precision and accurate detail?




    2 teams in Football. 2 ‘end zones’ on either side of the field (which is 100 yards long). One team starts with the football, and through passing and running, tries to get it into the endzone 100 yards away. When one team scores, it’s called a touchdown and the team gets 6 points. Then, the other team will get the ball (via a kickoff) and get a chance to try to score thru passing and running w// the ball.

    The quarterback is the leader of the team, and has the ball. Players on the other team try to tackle him before he can throw or pass it off, so that the quarterback’s team doesn’t score. The quarterback has defenders (Called linemen) that defend against the other team tackling the quarterback.

    Football might look like a bunch of 300 pound guys jumping on each other, but it’s a little more complicated.


    PBA: Why?

    Anyway, just on Wednesday I had a mixup where I said soccer when I was talking about soccer (cuz I’m freakin’ American) but I was referring to a British game of “football” (hah) and it didn’t end well.

    I really don’t want to talk about it.



    rationalfrummie: Too complicated.

    writersoul: Why not? Popa’s is still the most readable explanation.

    But meanwhile, please tell us about that mixup that you don’t want to talk about! Sounds interesting.


    Torah: No, I meant why suddenly bump up the thread now? Just seemed a bit random (if fun).

    Yes, as a fellow female flummoxed by football, I agree, popa did a great job :).

    Serious Premier League fans do NOT like stupid Amuhricans messing up the name of their sport. Or calling their team THE Hotspurs.

    Silly me.

    Actually, while I’ve definitely made such elementary errors in the past, this one was kind of different. I was referencing something British that itself referenced soc—FOOTBALL, and I used the s-word accidentally when I should have called it football. The reference was the kind of thing that can only be understood in context (otherwise it would look like I was talking utter gibberish), and, as I messed up the lashon, it, well, sounded like utter gibberish. It took me a bit of doing to sort it out.

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