Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Football II. For my Big Sister. Who's 5'4''

Because my Big Sister (who's 5'4'') wants to know about football, we're talking about football.

We covered the coin flip earlier. Which determines who kicks off.

The kickoff

Used to be, everybody kicked off from the 40 yard line. High school, college, and pro. Then, in 1974, this thing called the World Football League showed up. The WFL, though an unsuccessful league, had an impact.

The WFL kicked off from the 30. The NFL moved kickoffs to the 35, then, years later, the 30. College moved kickoffs back, too. High schools still kick from the 40.

The teams line up for the kick. The kicking team cannot have anyone past the football before the kick. And the receiving team cannot have anyone closer than 10 yards from the ball before it's kicked.

Once kicked, the ball must go 10 yards. Once it travels 10 yards, or if the receiving team touches the ball regardless of distance traveled, it's a "live" ball. That means either team, kicking or receiving, can gain possession of the ball.

If the kick goes out of bounds (or doesn't travel 10 yards) without being touched, it's a penalty. The ball can be moved back and kicked again, or the receiving team can take possession of the ball. Their choice.

Onside kick

This bit about 10 yards comes into play most often with a play called an "onside kick."

Usually, this happens when a team is behind, scores to close the score, but needs the ball again and there's not a lot of time left on the clock.

When that happens, teams will often try an onside kick.

The kicking team will kick the ball in such a way that it doesn't travel very far, and is hard to handle. The idea is to try to recover the ball and try to score again.

Most of the time, though, the team kicks the ball as far as they can, hoping to prevent a return.

If the kickoff crosses the goal line and either goes out of bounds or the receiving team gets the ball behind their goal line and chooses to not run the ball back, it's a touchback, and the ball is put into play on their 20 yard line.

If the receiving team catches ... or picks up ... the kickoff, they get to return the ball. They can run as far as they can, before the runner is tackled or forced out of bounds.

If they run it all the way back and cross the other team's goal line, it's a touchdown, and they score 6 points.

Usually, though, after the return, the receiving team will line up on offense at the point of the end of the return (tackle or out of bounds), or at the 20 in the event of a touchback, and they begin a series of downs.

We'll cover regular play, a team taking a series of downs, later.


  1. This is so cool...When will you get to the part where you tell me what them men do when they squat down and look at each other? Oh, I hope that's next!

  2. [...] writes about football. Here. And here. And here. And, [...]


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