Archive for January, 2015

Guide to American football basics, Super Bowl primer

January 30, 2015


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> From: ఎరిక్ వినైల్
> To: రమేష్ రెడ్డి
> Subject: నమస్తే రమేష్! HOLY SHIT GET READY FOR A WALL OF TEXT - సూపర్ బౌల్, అమెరికన్ ఫుట్‌బాల్, etc.
> Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:15:49 -0800
>
> http://www.sakshi.com/news/sports/super-bowl-sunday-brings-america-to-standstill-102655
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/other_sports/american_football/3192002.stm
>
> American football is incredibly brutal, but it's also a game of skill and complex strategy. Its rulebook is almost as thick as a telephone directory. But that doesn't matter. All you need to know, and all most Americans know, is the following:
>
> The object of the game is to carry the ball into the other team's goal area. Each side has 4 chances, called 'downs', to advance the ball 10 yards. If they do so, they are given another 4 attempts; if they run out of chances they must surrender the ball, at the point on the field where the play ended, to the other team.
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> You will often see or hear the down and remaining number of yards, e.g. '1st & 10', meaning first down and 10 yards to advance to gain another first down, or '3rd & 6', third down, with another 6 yards remaining (meaning they advanced 4 yards in their first two downs), etc.
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> The ball is dead and the play is over when the ball carrier is tackled and the referee blows the whistle. The next play begins from the yardline where the last one ended.
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> Catching the ball in the 'end zone' or putting it across the goal line is called a 'touchdown', and scores 6 points. After the touchdown the team will kick the ball through the goal posts, for the 'extra point'.
> (They also have the option of trying to bring the ball into the endzone again from the 2-yard line in one play to score two points.)
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> If the attacking side ('offense' in Am.E.) do not think they can gain another '1st down' on their 4th, they will often 'punt', or kick the ball to the other side of the field, so the opposing team must start further back from the goal line. If the offence are close enough, they might also try to kick a 'field goal' through the posts at the end of the field - this is worth only 3 points.
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> That's it, that's all you need to know to follow a game! All the rest the referees and television commentators will explain.
>
> Some additional background:
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> A match is one hour of regulation time, divided into four 'quarters'. The game clock counts down from 15 minutes, and stops for time-outs and when a pass is not caught or the ball goes into touch ('out of bounds'). If the scores are level at the end of four quarters, an additional 15-minute period will be played.
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> Each side has 11 players, just like soccer. However, unlike other sports, unlimited substitutions are allowed between plays - this means that usually there is an entirely different set of players on the field when a team is a attacking than when they are defending. Additionally, there are specialised players for kicking plays.
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> The pitch is 100 yards long and marked every 10. A yard is basically the same as a metre (technically the formal definition is 0.9144 m). 3 'feet' are in a yard, one 'foot' is 12 inches long. That actually doesn't even matter for our purposes... I tell you all this not to help you understand the game, but because if you're living in the States it's good to know. (I know, it seems ridiculously arcane and arbitrary, but dozenal measurement systems were common throughout the world before the adoption of metric.)
>
> American football and soccer, believe it or not, started out as different versions of the same sport. Just as baseball shares a common ancestor with cricket, so too is American football an outgrowth of English football games. It was strongly influenced by the Rugby School's rules, and, like rugby, over time prioritised ball carrying and running, with kicking becoming marginalised. After this game, formed at universities, became immensely popular, a professional league was founded.
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> Hyderabad actually has its own pro football team now, స్కై కింగ్స్.
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> The National Football League is divided into two 'conferences', further divided into four four-team divisions each (North, South, East, West), for a total of 32 teams. 12 of those teams make it to the postseason (American sport loves playoff$$$), with the winners advancing to the Conference finals, and finally to the Super Bowl, the league championship game.
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> This year's game, Super Bowl XLIX (Roman numeral 49) is the final of the 2014 season.
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> The Super Bowl is often called an 'unofficial holiday', because of what an event it is - not merely a football match, but an excuse to gather with friends and feast; many people host viewing parties. Typical foods are chips and dip (tortilla chips and Mexican-inspired salsa), chicken, and, of course, pizza - 'finger foods' that can be eaten on the sofa. It maybe be analogous to an Indian Test match, in that it's not only the usual sports fans, but everyone watching TV. While the men watch the match, many of the women are paying more attention to the commercials.
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> Another curious characteristic of the Super Bowl is that, for some people, the commercials are the main event. A 30-second spot sells for millions of dollars (or crores of rupees) and so every company that buys time is vying to air their most memorable, outrageous, inspiring and funniest ads. Oftentimes, especially if the match is lacklustre, this is what will be discussed on Monday morning.
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> At half-time there is a musical performance. This year's artist is కాటి పెర్రీ.
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> The NFL is huge, bringing in billions of dollars (thousands of crores of rupees) annually.
>
> You can apparently stream the match on their website. http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/49/live/watch-free-live-stream-online In the past the league has trumpeted how widely watched this game is and included Hindi in the list of dozens of languages it's broadcast in, but I've yet to figure out who carries హిందుస్తానీ commentary.
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> Probably every single public venue you can find with a television - especially ones that serve food or drink - will be showing the match. I bet even Indian restaurants will have it on. :)
>
> Grab a bag of Doritos and enjoy a uniquely American spectacle!
>