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Basics of Football

Today I will be breaking down the basics to understanding football in order to provide a basis of knowledge for those casual fans who are interested in learning more about the game. Although the experienced football fan may already know much of this information, everyone forgets things from time to time so you never know what you could learn from reviewing the basics.

Part 1: Breaking down the display screen
In this part I will be describing the display screen and what each section on the screen is indicating when watching a football game on television or in person. These indicators may seem insignificant to the casual fan but in reality they are very important for understanding what situation is taking place. In short, they give context to the action on the field.

The first and most basic indicators that we need to discuss are scoreboard and clock. These 2 components usually appear together and are exactly what they sound like which is a display of both the home and away teams score along with the time left in the current quarter. There are 4 quarters in a football game that are sometimes followed by overtime (OT) if a winner is not decided by the end of the 4th quarter. When a quarter begins the clock starts winding down until it runs out of time which signals the end of one quarter and the beginning of the next. The scoreboard should always display the away team first and the home team second whether that’s from left to right or top to bottom. Timeouts may also be shown next to each teams score either by a number or several other style of indicator dependent on the individual game.

The next important indicator will be down and yards to gain. In the NFL the offense is given 4 downs to produce a first down and reset the process. A first down is 10 yards from the last first down spot. That means if I started at my own 10 yard line and picked up a first down by running to my own 21 yard line I would still need to reach my own 31 yard line on the next set of downs to receive another first down. Even though the offense is given 4 downs to produce a first down most teams decide to punt on the 4th down in order to give themselves better field position and defend against the opponent’s offense.