HuffyHow: Even more beginner girl’s guide to football

2009 Michigan Wolverines football team

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  The football game is over. The coaches and teams are sprinting off the field. (They run because they want to look tough, of course.) Now, finally, can we please go home, curl up on the couch and watch a little Lifetime? Nooooooooo, don’t be silly. It’s time for the post game analysis (PGA). What else is there to say, you might ask? Team A won because they scored more points than Team B. End of story. No, the game is never done, because this is football, where boys  become men, and dammit we’re not ready to go back to being boys yet. Let the PGA begin. 

If you’re at the game in person, your analysis starts on the walk back to the car and continues on the ride home. My guy companions begin analysis of every play. Everything from “They shouldn’t have run the hook and ladder on that last drive” to “________ (insert quarterback’s name here) has got to work on his _________ (insert problem area here).” I don’t know enough about the strategy to have much to say, but I’ve developed a few generic phrases that help me fit in. “They shouldn’t have gone for two,” I say, in response to the team missing the two extra points after the touchdown. Most of the time teams opt to run the ball in for the extra point after touchdown, but at crucial times, such as when the team wants to be ahead by more than a touchdown, they try passing the ball into the end zone, which, if successful, yields two points. This also works conversely, as in “They SHOULD have gone for two” if your team has lost by two points, so you essentially get two comments for the price of one.

Another favorite of mine is “The secondary looks weak.” This is a great phrase, but a little tricky to pull off, because first, you have to know what the secondary is, and second (or secondarily 🙂 ) it only works if the secondary IS indeed weak, otherwise you’ll just sound silly. I find the whole secondary thing a little confusing, but as far as I can tell, this is how it goes: there’s the first row of offensive linemen whose job it is to protect the quarterback and block so the ball can get through; then there’s another set of players as backup in case the first set does not succeed, so they’re called the secondary. This is not to be confused with  the second string, who are the second choice players who sit on the bench, the virtual B list who only get to play if the first string guy gets hurt. 

The term “weak” is anathema to football, because football is about men who are strong, winning, crushing,  so it’s also a pretty safe bet that you can use “weak” in almost any context and end up with something meaningful to say. “The quarterback looked weak,” “The defense is weak,” “The special teams are weak,” you get the idea.

Just when you think your companions have run out of things to say in  PGA, they turn on the TV or radio to hear the PGA of others. There’s a multitude of talk radio programs where callers call in to add their post-game comments, probably because they don’t have any one at home with whom to commiserate.  The call-in shows often focus on the ineptitude of the coaches, with callers finding ten different ways to say the same thing, which is essentially, the coach has to go! This gets tiresome about the time we get home and turn on the TV to watch the professional post-game analysis. There are usually four commentators sitting at a desk, which implies officiousness, since not just anyone is allowed to sit at a desk on TV. The commentators are usually former football players and/or former coaches. Anyone on the commentator team who is a former coach is addressed merely as “Coach” as if coach was his first name.  The professional commentators provide analysis of all the games that were played or are about to be played anywhere in America on that day, so obviously this could go on forever, and usually does.

Your PGA will go better if you understand some of the common football terms.

Sack: tackling the quarterback before he’s had a chance to get rid of the ball. Quarterbacks consider being sacked a horrible humiliation, so they’ll do anything to avoid it, such as throwing the ball out-of-bounds or hiding it in their pants.

Receiver: the part of your phone that you speak into, or the person intended to catch the ball.

Blitz: when the defense rushes at the quarterback attempting a sack.

Safety: one of the most ridiculous football terms ever. If the opposing team is able to drag the quarterback into the end zone while he still has the ball, they score a safety, which is worth two points. So what’s safe about that?

Offsides: when members of the offense move ahead of the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.

Now you know everything you need to know to watch, or at least pretend to watch, football.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

HuffyHow: More girl’s beginner guide to football

Western Michigan University American football ...

Image via Wikipedia

Now that you know how to find and follow the ball, the only other thing you need to know is how to TALK football. Yes, if you’re watching with others, you don’t want to be left out by not cheering or knowing how to discuss the game.

During the game, here’s some generic cheers you can use to make it seem like you know what you’re talking about. You’ll have to pay attention as to whether your team is on offense (carrying the ball) or defense (keeping the other team from scoring) so you’ll use the right cheers at the right time.

There’s not a lot to say when your team is on defense. Their main goal is to stop the other team from advancing the ball, and not getting any penalties in the process. So it’s always safe to chant generic slogans like “Go defense” or the ever popular “DE’ fense, DE’ fense…) Or if you’re the silent type, you can always go for holding up the big capital D and a white picket fence – that really says it all.

It’s also important to let the defense know if they’re not doing a good job. So if the defense leaves a big gap where the runner gets through without being stopped, you can yell “Hey I could’ve driven a truck through that hole!” or “My grandma could’ve stopped him!” In fact, grandmas and moms come up quite a bit in football. Any time a football player seems weak or ineffectual, it’s okay to compare him to your grandma or mom as in “My mom could have ___________ better.”

When your team’s on offense, you want to cheer them on for advancing the ball. So if they get the first down, you can clap, yell “Yeah!” and the like. If your team is not succeeding in advancing the ball, there’s actually more to yell about. It’s important to shout advice to the players, because they obviously would not know what to do without hundreds of fans yelling at them at the same time. It’s always safe to go with the grandma or mom rant above. Or try to make things more personal to that particular play.

Of course the most  important thing is yelling at the refs. Everyone assumes the refs are: blind, biased, lazy, ineffective, unless they’ve made a call in favor of your team. Direct your rants towards the refs’ inefficiencies.  “C’mon ref, get some new glasses”, “C’mon ref are you blind?” “Get the home team refs out” all work well. Of course it’s important to focus on particulars so your yelling will help the ref become a better ref in the future. “Hey it was interference”, “He was all over him ref”, “He was out-of-bounds”, “He was offsides” are all pretty standard and work for most situations. Of course one wonders how four refs right on the field can miss these things that we’re seeing 200 yards away in the stands; maybe they do need new glasses. 

To top things off, make sure that you shake your keys in the air or wave your cap during the kickoff at the beginning of each half, high-five your seat mates when your team scores, and sing the fight song during time-outs, and you’ll be all set  to fit right in at the game.

Coming up: the all important post game analysis and terminology explained.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.