- February 27,2013
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Need a refresher or just want to be clued in . . . Well, click on the different sports balls above to get a rundown of the rules for football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey. It is just a start to your sports knowledge, but hopefully the rules will fill in some of the holes.
Still got questions – post them on the Sportsgirl Discussion Board!
Yes, football really is a bunch of big sweaty guys running into each other. I am not here to deny that. But, if you care to dig a bit deeper, here is some logic to the sweaty madness.
The point of the game is to move the ball towards your opponent’s end zone. Each teams’ end zone is the area at opposite ends of the field – look for the home team’s logo and colors to differentiate the end zone from the regular 100 yard football field.
The players on a football team are divided into specialties and positions within those specialties. The three specialties are offense, defense, and special teams. The offense maintains control of the ball and tries to score, while the defense does what it can to prevent the other team from scoring. Special teams are used on rare plays when the possession of the ball is transitioning from one team to the next. The guy to know on special teams is the kicker – he sends the ball flying to players on the opposing special team to catch and run back towards his end zone. He is usually the little guy and you don’t want him stuck tackling anyone.
A team can move the ball on offense by throwing it or running it against the opposing team’s defense. Of the eleven players on each offensive team, there is one quarterback who throws the ball, a runningback who runs the ball, and receivers who catch the ball. Some quarterbacks you may know are Michael Vick, Brett Favre, and Tom Brady. Reggie Bush is a well-known runningback, and Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and Miles Austin are some of the more popular wide receivers. A team has four opportunities, called downs, to move (or stop if on defense) the ball 10 yards. If successful, the team gets a new set of downs, otherwise the ball must be turned over to the other team.
There are three ways to score. A touchdown is worth six points (and then you get a free opportunity to score one or two points based on an option you choose), the ultimate score, because it is worth the most points. This is typically when you see guys slap each other’s butt or do a ridiculous dance to show off their prowess. If the offense can’t score a touchdown they typically bring in the kicker to try for a field goal, worth three points. The field goal is scored when the kicker kicks the ball through uprights over the endzone. Field goals nowadays typically range from 20-50 yds in length. The third way to score is through a safety, worth only two points. This rarely occurs and is a bit complicated so no need to dwell on this one…
A few little details to note: Penalties are a huge part of the game which are monitored by the referees. Typically, the sanction is for the team to be pushed back further away from their end zone. Turnovers are a critical component of the game as well and are known as interceptions and fumbles, which respectively, mean turning the ball over through a pass or an offensive player dropping the ball. Lastly, overtime in the NFL is based on a sudden death model (unless it is playoffs) – the first team to score, whether a field goal or touchdown, is the winner.
The National Football League (NFL) is comprised of 32 teams which are divided into the NFC and AFC. These conferences are split further into divisions made up of four teams each. Each conference crowns a champion through a playoff system that then meet in the Superbowl. The Superbowl which is played in early February, is the second best foodie day in the year (after Thanksgiving), and the best day for watching commercials. If there is a time for you to get into sports, the Superbowl is it!
Of all professional sports, basketball is the most accessible. We should all be able to recall a moment in our childhood where we held a basketball, checked out a guy shooting hoops, or were a date to an NBA game. Even President Obama and his daughters shoot hoops at the White House! Yet, despite its accessibility, the rules of the game may still be a mystery so here are some answers.
A basketball game is played between two teams that each have five players on the court at one time. The five players are assigned different positions whose roles vary. Generally, just know that the tall guys stay near the basket and the shorter ones stay outside and handle the ball most of the time.
The goal is for one team to score more points than the other. A player scores by shooting the ball into his or her team’s hoop. A hoop is a round rim with a net. There are two hoops, or baskets, on each court – one at each end. Each hoop is assigned to a team and you score by shooting in your own team’s basket. (The teams switch sides and hoops halfway through the game.) All the players play both offense and defense as the teams rotate possession of the ball.
A shot that makes it into the basket is worth two points, a field goal, unless it is taken from outside the arc, making it worth three points. The arc is a line designation on the court. A player can also earn a one point shot, a foul shot, which is taken from the foul line, also designated on the court. A foul shot is earned when a player tries to physically disadvantage his opponent in a manner in which is against the rules. (Sometimes, depending on the foul, the team fouled only gains possession of the ball, not a foul shot.)
In the NBA, the game is divided into four 12 minute quarters, while in college basketball, two 20 minute halves are played. In both leagues, the team with possession of the ball is subject to a shot clock, meaning that the team must attempt a shot (one that hits the rim at least) within the time provided or the other team regains possession. If the teams are tied at the end of regulation, overtime periods of five minutes being until there is a winner at the end of an overtime period.
Probably the best sporting event to catch a glimpse of is March Madness, the NCAA college basketball championship tournament. Whether you are a die-hard fan of your alma mater or just want to win your office pool, there is something in March Madness for everyone. This year the tournament expands to 68 teams, which battle it out in head to head elimination until one team is left standing. Be sure not to miss it as Sportsgirl will have some betting tips coming your way during Bracketology!
Of all the major professional sports you probably find baseball to be the most boring, especially when you are not at the ballpark drinking beers and eating hot dogs and Cracker Jack. One of the reasons for this is that baseball is a slow game with minutes between acts of athleticism. I am not here to differ, in fact I agree, but one thing that makes me appreciate the sport is knowing that hitting a baseball in the majors is believed to be the most difficult act in sports. Baseball’s history is long and intricate just like its rules. (This accounts for some of the slowness of the game – the players spend more time thinking about the rules leading them to make the best play instead of just instinctively running, throwing, or jumping.) Here is a basic breakdown:
A baseball game is played between two teams that take turn playing offense and defense. Each team is made up of nine players that play both offense by batting, and defense by fielding/pitching. A standard game consists of nine innings and each inning is made up of six outs, three for each team. The home team plays defense first and must get three outs against the other team before getting its turn to play offense. The most common ways that an out is earned is through (i) a strikeout – there are three strikes against a batter, (ii) a flyout – a ball that is hit by a batter is caught by a fielder before hitting the ground, (iv) a groundout/force out – a ball is hit and lands into fair territory and the fielder gains control and touches a base before the batter tags it. It is possible to have double and triple plays, meaning two or three outs are earned in the same course of play. If the game is tied at the end of nine innings the game continues into extra innings until one team is leading at the end of an inning. (There is no golden goal score – both teams get a chance to play offense.)
The goal of the game is score more runs than your opponent. A run is scored by a player completing a round of the four bases to reach homebase. The player starts at home plate where he faces pitches from the pitcher. The pitcher then throws strikes or balls to the player at home plate, the batter. A strike is either when (i) the batter lets a perfect pitch go by without swinging, (ii) the batter swings at any ball and misses, or (iii) the batter hits a foul ball, a ball that is out of play. (Yet, note that if there are two strikes already on the board against the batter at this at bat, any foul ball does not count as the third strike.) A ball is when the pitcher throws a bad pitch, meaning one outside of the strike zone. A batter may progress to the additional bases by hitting a pitch into play and reaching base, earning four balls automatically awarding himself advancement to first base, or getting hit by a pitch. The batter then progresses around the bases, based upon the actions of the subsequent batters. No two batters may be on a base simultaneously. Also, players on base do not keep their spots at the end of an inning – each inning starts anew.
Each baseball field is unique. (A great trip for the man in your life would be to go check out some baseball stadiums around the country. They are all architecturally different and comprised with their own traditions and culture.) Yet, each field has an infield, the part of the field enclosed by the bases, an outfield, and an outer boundary marking the end of the outfield. A homerun is most commonly scored by hitting a ball beyond the outer boundary of the outfield.
Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the American League (AL) and National League (NL), and each League has three divisions titled East, West, and Central. The World Series, which typically takes place in October, is a match up of the AL and NL champions for that season. Unlike the Superbowl, which is one game on one day, the World Series is a best of seven game series – just like a Rock-Paper-Scissors showdown.