How to Explain Football to a Girl

For years men have struggled with how to explain football to a girl. Most men are born with a gene that allows them to grasp the basic concepts of football.  Any man walking down the street can tell you what a quarterback is, can tell you the difference between a defensive lineman and a linebacker, and most likely sprinkles their day with football metaphors.  But they don't  know how to explain football to girls, women and that nerdy guy from accounting? For whatever reason, women weren’t born with this gene and have long had to suffer sitting next to men on couches, in stadiums or in sports bars smiling and nodding about a game they don’t understand. The first thing to do when explaining football to a woman is to not assume she won’t get it…she will.  Follow these simple steps on how to explain football to a girl and soon you will have her permission to lounge around watching football every weekend in the fall.

  1. Start with the basics.  There is no reason to start her off with the intricacies of the Tampa Cover Two defensive scheme or why Bill Belichick cuts the sleeves off his sweatshirts.  Explain enough detail so that she will be able to follow the game whether watching it live or in person.  Start with the basic object of the game: To advance the ball past the other teams goal line.  From there explain the scoring: six points for a touchdown, one for an extra-point and three for a field goal.
  2. Explain the two ways the ball may be advanced. This may be obvious to you but she may have never watched the game closely before and probably views each play as a bunch of no-neck guys running around in every direction. Explain how the quarterback may hand the ball to a player who will try to advance the ball by running with it.  Secondly, the ball may be advanced by having the quarterback throw the ball to a player who has run down the field.  Explain that these passes can yield big results but also have a bigger risk factor such as an interception. Here is where you should also explain the difference between an incomplete pass and a fumble.
  3. Explain what 'first and ten' means. Many football newbies struggle with understanding the downs and why a team punts it to the other team.  Explain to your girl what a down is, and explain that each team is given four downs to advance the ball and score.  Go on further to explain that since scoring in only four plays is pretty hard to do the team can get a new set of four downs if it is able to advance the ball ten yards further than where they started.  This is where to talk about punting. Tell her that when fourth down comes up the team has a choice, go for it and risk giving the ball away or kicking it to the other team forcing them to start with the ball further down the field.
  4. Let's go to the video replay. Once these basics have been explained it would be a good idea to have some visual aides.  Sit down with her to watch a game.  If you have a DVR and can pause or rewind the game you will be able to stop and explain what happened after each play. 
  5. Be patient!  She most likely will have many questions and the best way to encourage her interest will be to take the time to answer these questions.  Rolling your eyes, loud sighs or other signs of annoyance will turn her off to the game and most likely result in you watching "Sense and Sensibility" instead of the Patriots-Colts game on Sunday.
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