Football: Rules | Sunday Observer

Football: Rules

22 November, 2020

The rules of football can be complex and vary depending on the level of play. We will cover some of the basics here including the field, players, offense, defense, and penalties.

The field

The football field is 120 yards long and 53 ½ yards wide. At each end of the field and 100 yards apart are the goal lines. The additional 10 yards at each end is the end zone. The field is divided up every 5 yards by a yard line. The middle yard line marker is called the 50 yard line. In parallel to the side lines are rows of hash marks. The football is always placed on or between the hash marks at the start of each play. There are also goal posts at the back of each football end zone. One way to score is to kick the football through the goal posts. The ball must go between the uprights and over the crossbar.

Game format

Football is a timed sport. The team with the most points at the end of the time period, wins the game. The game is divided up into 4 periods or quarters with a long “half time” between the second and third quarter

Players

The rules in football allow each team to have eleven players on the field at a time. Teams may substitute players between plays with no restrictions. Each team must start a play on their side of the ball.

The defensive players may take any position they want and can move about their side of the football prior to the play without restriction. Although there are certain defensive positions that have become common over time, there are no specific rules defining defensive positions or roles.

The offensive players, however, have several rules that define their position and what role they may take in the offense. Seven offensive players must be lined up on the line of scrimmage. The other four players must be lined up at least one yard behind the line of scrimmage. All of the offensive football players must be set, or still, prior to the play beginning with the exception of one of the four backs which may be moving parallel or away from the line of scrimmage. Further rules say that only the four backs and the players at each end of the line of scrimmage may catch a pass or run the football.

The play

The team with the possession of the football is called the offence. The offence tries to advance the football on plays. The defense tries to prevent the offense from scoring or advancing the football. The down system: The offense must advance the ball at least 10 yards every four plays or downs. Each time the offense is successful in advancing the ball 10 yards, they get four more downs or what is called a “first down”.

If the offence does not get 10 yards in four plays, the other team gains possession of the football at the current line of scrimmage. In order to keep the other team from getting good field position the offense can punt (kick) the ball to the other team intentionally. This is often done on 4th down, when the offense is outside of field goal range.

Offensive plays on downs start with a snap. This is when the center passes the football between their legs to one of the offensive backs (usually the quarterback). The ball is advanced either by running with the football (called rushing) or passing the football. The football play is over when 1) the player with the football is tackled or goes out of bounds 2) an incomplete pass 3) there is a score.

The offensive team can lose possession of the football by:

* Scoring

* Not getting 10 yards in four downs.

* Fumbling or dropping the football and the defensive team recovers it.

* Throwing the football to a defensive player for an interception.

* Punting or kicking the football to the defensive team.

* Missing a field goal.

* Getting tackled in the end zone for a safety.

Penalties

There are many rules and penalties that are enforced during a football game. Most football penalties result in a loss or gain of yardage depending on whether the penalty is against the offense or the defense. The severity of the penalty determines the number of yards. Most penalties are 5 or 10 yards, but some personal foul penalties result in 15 yards. Also, pass interference can result in a penalty that matches the length of the intended pass. The team that did not commit the penalty has the right to decline the penalty. 

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