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American Football

Known in North America as just plain football and in other parts of the world as Gridiron, American “Football” is known for its aggressive play, hard hitting style, and non-stop competition. Yet, it is also a game of precise strategy. Football is mainly played on US soil, truly making it “America’s Game.” The object of the game is to gather more points than the opponent by advancing the ball (a prolate spheroid ball, similar to a rugby ball with sharper points at each end) into the opposing team’s end-zone (each team has an end-zone at their end of the field).

The team that possesses the ball is on offense, while the team attempting to stop their opponent is on defense. Advancing into the end-zone gets you 6 points and is called a touchdown while kicking the ball through the uprights nets you 3 points and is named a field goal. After scoring a Touchdown the scoring team is allowed a chance at a conversion. The team can choose to kick the ball through the uprights (1 point) or try to advance the ball into the end-zone (2 points). Either try starts from 3 yards from the end-zone. After the scoring team finishes their extra point conversion, they kick the ball to their opponents. That team then gets a chance to score.

While you have possession of the ball, you get 4 chances to move the ball 10 yards. If you succeed at any time during those 4 chances, you get a 1st Down. That means you get 4 more chances. If you fail to get a 1st down in 3 chances, you can choose to kick the ball to the opposing team. If you don’t kick, but fail to get a 1st down, the opposing team moves to offense, and now they get possession of the ball.

The game is broken down into four 15-minute quarters. After the first two quarters, the teams get a break in the action to prepare for the next two quarters (this is called half-time). At the end of a 60 minute game, the team with the most points is the winner. The clock stops for timeouts, penalties, and failed pass attempts. If a tie occurs, there is one 15 minute, sudden death overtime. The first team to score any points, wins. If neither team scores, the game will end in a tie (this rarely happens).

In America, there is only one major professional league, the National Football League, known by many as the NFL. However, many smaller leagues act as a sort of “minor league” for NFL play. The Canadian Football League, the NFL Europa (the NFL’s developmental league), and the Arena League are the 3 other professional leagues, but none of the three compete with the NFL. The most popular football league other than the NFL is NCAA College Football. Universities compete with each other. College athletes are not allowed to get paid, but they are often given scholarships, helping or completely paying for their education.

Once a year, college Juniors (3rd year) and Seniors (4th year) are allowed to declare themselves eligible for the NFL Draft. The Draft is set up to give the worst teams a chance to draft the best players, as the team with the worst record gets to choose who they want first. The selection process goes from worst to best, and then starts over. The Draft is 7 total rounds.

The NFL is broken down into 2 divisions, the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference (32 total teams). Each NFL team plays 16 games in the Regular Season. At the end of the regular season, the top 6 teams (decided by record) from each conference get to move on to the playoffs. This is a tournament that finishes with the best team from the NFC playing against the best team from the AFC for the Super Bowl Trophy.

The Gallup Poll has Football getting voted as America’s favorite sport every year since 1972, when football passed up baseball. Football’s viewership ratings far surpasses all other sports in America. And the popularity is growing overseas as well, so much so that the NFL is trying to initiate a movement that will have each team playing one game on European soil.

The game of football has more popularity in America than anywhere else in the world, but has amateur following in Mexico and American Samoa, and is also followed in Japan, Australia, Israel, Europe, and South America among other places.

The field of play is 120 yards(109.7 m) long, from the back of one end-zone to another, and 53 yards (48.8 m) wide. If any part of the player or ball touches the lines that border the field, that player (or ball) is marked out of bounds at that spot. Each end-zone is 10 yards long. At the back of the end-zone, there is a set of goal posts. This is where field goals are to be kicked between. Each team is allowed 11 players on the field at a time, and between plays, substitutions are allowed. If a player is substituted for, he is allowed to return any time after the next play.

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