So I know it's not football season at the present time of my writing this (I am referring to American football, not football everywhere else in the world), but I saw an old Vlogbrothers episode from 2013 the other day, and it kinda made me angry. It was called "Football for Nerds" and basically explained why football is so big a deal by basically saying it made people money, and did not explain the complexity or beauty of the game. I, being a varsity football player in high school, found this rather demeaning to my favorite sport, and so I have decided to talk more about the game of football and why it is one of the most-beloved sports in America. Hopefully, by the end of this, you all will at least understand the sport and maybe even appreciate it.
So firstly (since Hank decided to ignore it) I am going to explain how football works. There are two sides of football, the offensive side and the defensive side. On the offensive side, the purpose is to get a player to carry the football into the endzone in order to score a touchdown (more on that later). The purpose of the defense is to prevent the offense from scoring. There are eleven men on each side. The play starts with the huddle, where the quarterback (the leader of the offense who takes the ball from the center and begins the play) tells the play to the other ten members of the offense what the play is. There are two types of plays; running and passing. In a running play, the quarterback hands the ball off to another member of the team (usually a running back, but not always) so that they can run with the ball and attempt to advance the ball's position. In a passing play, the quarterback attempts to throw the football to a wide receiver or tight end in order to advance the ball. Advancing the ball is a crucial part of the game, as the offense only has four downs to move the ball ten yards. If they fail to do this, then the other team's offense takes possession of the ball. The ball's position is determined by where the ball carrier's forward progress was stopped (basically where he got tackled). The ball is placed on a yard line at the spot where the carrier was stopped, and the next play begins. The purpose of the offensive line (the guys who stand in front of the quarterback and get zero spotlight) is to prevent the defense from tackling the ball carrier and halting his forward progress. On running plays, linemen have blocking assignments, meaning that they need to block certain members of the defense in order for the play to carry on. A block is when the offensive lineman hits a defensive player with their hands in an attempt to move them out of the way of the ball carrier. Offensive linemen DO NOT tackle. On passing plays, linemen instead perform a pass block, where they prevent defensive linemen and quarterbacks (I'll get to that in a moment) from getting to the quarterback and tackling him, something called a sack. The linemen are crucial to the offense, as without them the defense is free to attack the quarterback and/or running back.
Defensively, the game is (slightly) simpler. There are three kinds of defensive players; the line, the linebackers, and the secondary. The defensive line lines up in front of the offensive line. Their purpose is to prevent the offensive linemen from making their blocking assignments and to attempt to stop the forward progress of the ball carrier. Linebackers are players who have a variety of jobs. Linebackers protect the middle of the field, essentially. They attempt to tackle ball carriers, cover passing routes (the way wide receivers run to get free of defenders so they can catch the football), and occasionally do something called blitz, where they run through the line and attempt to tackle the quarterback on a passing play before he can throw the ball. The purpose of the secondary is primarily to cover passing plays. They follow the wide receivers and attempt to prevent receivers from catching the football. Secondaries have two different types; safeties and cornerbacks. In a very basic explanation, cornerbacks cover the sides of the field while safeties cover the back of the field that the linebackers can't reach.
There are four ways to score in football; the touchdown, the field goal, and the extra point. The touchdown is the most well-known of the three. To score a touchdown, the ball carrier (offensive player) must enter the end zone with the ball in his/her possession. A touchdown is worth six points. After a touchdown is scored, the team can kick an extra point. This is when the team's kicker attempts to kick the ball through the goalpost from a close distance (that's why they're there) in order to score a seventh point for the team. In rare situations, the team can also go for two, where they conduct a play from close to the end zone in an attempt to get the ball carrier into the endzone to score two extra points instead of one. The field goal is another way to score. In a field goal, the kicker kicks the ball into the endzone from a distance. If he makes it, the team gets three points.
Secondly, football isn't all about advertising. While professional football has a lot of advertising, high school games (like mine) do not. Football isn't just some attempt to make big corporations money by spamming ads at people high on adrenaline. It is a beautiful and exciting game. It is highly complex as well, and requires a lot of practice and work to be good at it. I've practiced or worked out for football year-round for the past three years of my life, and still I'm not very good. Professional football players put a ton of work into their craft (except Johnny Manziel because he's a douchebag). They bring to us an exciting sport that can teach us many things about life. Football shows us that if men (and women) work together well enough, they can accomplish almost anything. In a way, football is like Nerdfighteria. It is a collection of people who come together to become a team, and work as one to overcome adversity and achieve a goal (winning a football game or decreasing world suck).
I'd love to say more (as there's more to talk about), but apparently there's a post size limit on this forum and it's angry at me. Just remember; football is not a barbaric sport for brutes high on adrenaline. A nerd can enjoy a good old classic game of football just as much as any jock can. Thank you for taking the time to read this.