There are two kinds of non football fans that watch football: The one that attempts to ‘get in the game’ but still struggles with the concept of things like the alleged first down (we’re speaking from personal experience), and the one that chooses not to even try to pretend they’re ‘getting in the game.’ The latter assumedly only watches football one day out of the year – the day of the Super Bowl – and they catch up on more emails in those three and a half hours than most do in a full ten-hour work day. The former may have seen an additional game or two and is trying to ‘take up football’ the same way one ‘takes up French’ due to a number of conditional factors; the most common being a new relationship, where their significant other lives and breathes the NFL (hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?).
*Note: If you’re a female that just loves football and wears a jersey to the bar on game day and pulls it off, we’re really, really jealous of you. And you probably won’t need to read this article, so go check out this interview with Panther’s Q.B. Cam Newton (see how we abbreviated ‘quarterback’ just there?)
We aim to support both the “trying” non-football fan and the “distracted” non-football fan. You both are beautiful in your own way, and we wouldn’t have you any differently. That’s why we made a little guide for each of you, one that helps the “distracted” fan stay effectively distracted from boredom, and the “trying” fan effectively informed. Here goes nothing…
We’ve got one word for you…Instagram.
You may know better than anyone that you can get seriously lost on Instagram. I mean, if you follow the right accounts, you may not have to look up from your phone AT ALL until the end of the game. Here are some suggestions; we’ve even categorized them for you…
For food & aesthetic…
A few more things…
If you’d like to get lost on the Celebrities & Tastemakers section on The New Potato, that’s always a great way to kill hours of time.
There’s also Lauren Santo Domingo’s Pinterest which is more like a black hole of all things beautiful…
And then there’s Mindy Kaling’s Twitter account, because we could literally scroll through this feed of jokes since the beginning of time (aka the beginning of Twitter) forever.
So first and foremost – and this is where right away us potato-heads give our ignorance game away – you need to know who’s playing this year: the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS versus the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. Because if your friends know you at all, there will be a jerk that, when you say “I’m so psyched for this game,” says, “Oh yeah, who’s playing?” You’d be surprised how easy it is to get bogged down in the technical and forgo this one crucial fact.
Upon answering the question correctly, you also may get the follow up question “Okay, who’s who?” where the inquirer points to the screen. This is just about colors, so don’t get tripped up. We went out of our way to go on ESPN.com (a site we’ll admit we may not have ever visited until writing this article) and found out the patriots will be wearing white, and the seahawks will be wearing navy. Easy enough, right?
Discussion points for each team…
Deflate Gate: You’ve most likely seen this in the news. The Patriots supposedly deflated the balls they used the last game, which is against NFL guidelines. It’s been called ‘deflate gate’ like watergate, and people are in an uproar about it.
*Note: Knowing that the Q.B. of this team is Tom Brady, who is married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, will not get you brownie points.
Seattle Seahawks – They’re defending champions (aka they won the Super Bowl last year). That’s all we really know about these guys…
Now this may seem lamely basic, but we went on the NFL website where they explain football to beginners and extracted the important stuff, and put it in our own non-football-fan friendly wording…
Okay, so we all know the offense is eleven men, and they try to advance the ball down the field by passing it or running it. The defense tries to stop them by tackling them to the ground. (so don’t flinch, that’s what they’re supposed to do).
Terms to know
Kickoff: The ball’s kicked to the offense by the other team to start the game. Pretty simple right?
First down: You can, and you will, master this term. The offense has four chances to move the ball ten yards. So a first down is when the offense gains ten yards, and then they can go back to a first chance (with four more chances) to get another ten yards. Fail to gain 10 yards in 4 chances and the offense has to kick it to the other team (who then becomes the offense). The goal is to get it across the field to the end zone for a touch down (we’ll explain later on).
*Instruction note: When you see the team you like gets that ten yards (aka: a first down), cheer and say something like “First down! We’re in this!”
Moving the Ball: This is how the offense gets the ball further and further down the field. The quarterback’s the guy on the offense that either runs the ball, hands it to a runner to run, or throws it. The player in front of it “snaps” it to him to start the play, and he either passes it or runs it or passes it to a runner.
*Instruction note: If the QB drops the ball after the ‘snap’ you can say something like, “What a bad snap…”
*Instruction note: If the QB runs it and gets tackled right away, you can say something like, “There was a guy open for a pass. They could’ve gotten a first down!”
Tackle: When the defense brings the ball carrier to the ground to prevent them from gaining yards
*Instruction note: If the team you like is on defense, you want them to tackle like there’s no tomorrow. But don’t scream things like “get ’em! get ’em” or “tackle him, come on TACKLE HIM” every single play…we’ve learned from personal experience it begins to annoy your peers.
Touchdown – This is where the offense scores six points by getting the ball past the goal line into the end zone, and allows them a chance at one more point. The extra point to get is a field goal where – after scoring a touchdown – the offense attempts to kick the ball through the field goal posts. (Basically, most often, when the team gets it to the end zone, they score seven points. If they miss the field goal, you can really act astonished because that rarely happens).
Turnovers: The offense turns it over accidentally to the defense in two ways. The first is a fumble, when the ball carrier drops the ball, and the defense has the chance to pick it up and become the offense. The second is an interception, when the offense throws a pass, and the defense catches it instead of offense.
*Instruction note: There’s usually a huge cheer and groan on either of these, so whatever team you’re rooting for – act accordingly.
That’s basically all you need to know, what’s most important is to pay attention, shout things out that include the football terms we took you through, and most importantly, if you’re unsure, just stay silent. People will confuse your silence for frustration and/or concentration. Remember, there’s no crying in football…no matter how bored you get.
– Laura Kosann