If you don’t give two hoots about football, can’t tell a goalpost from a fence post, and couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl, but your man is crazy for the game; then you’ve come to the right place. Our Super Bowl for Beginners guide will help you understand the game and the tradition. Read this, and your guy and his friends will love you for being so into the sport! Well, at least they’ll love you for not asking 10 times during the game, Who’s winning? or, Which color are we rooting for again?
This year’s is Super Bowl XLVII, which means it is the 47th Super Bowl. It is being played at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA on February 3, 2013. The two teams competing—the San Francisco 49ers versus the Baltimore Ravens are the conference champions—they beat out every other team for their shot at glory.
CBS will be broadcasting the game, which starts at 6:30 pm EST., but pregame coverage—which is a big part of the fun for football fans—starts at 11am! They’ll be making predictions about the winning team and the MVPs (Most Valuable Players), and no doubt reliving great moments from Super Bowls past. This is why you need all kinds of salty, greasy food and a lot of beer. Even if you prefer rum and cokes or mojitos, get tons of beer. A Super Bowl without beer is like a facial without a massage.
Even if you really don’t like the game don’t despair. Beyoncé will perform the half-time show with surprise special guests, and there are always lots of funny and clever commercials. Make sure you follow social media reactions on Twitter, for added fun!
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Okay, so let’s get down to the business of football: Two teams will be playing each other in four 15-minute quarters. After each quarter the teams reverse sides. The clock runs only while the ball is in play.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TOUCHDOWNS
The point of the game is to score touchdowns. The teams line up against each other and try to carry or pass the ball into the opposite team’s goal line. Whenever a player carries or catches the ball in the end zone (past the goal line), the team scores a touchdown, which counts for 6 points. After a touchdown the team gets a chance to kick the ball through the goalposts to gain one more point. A way of scoring without a touchdown is to kick the ball between the goalposts for 3 points. This is usually done when the team is close enough for a kick but most likely unable to make a touchdown before turning the ball over to the other team.
THE RULES OF THE GAME
This brings us to the standard rules of the game: When a team is in possession of the ball they have four Downs, or chances, to move (or “drive”) the ball forward by either passing or running the ball. If during those four downs they advance more than ten yards, they win another four downs, giving them further opportunity to advance toward the goal and score a touchdown.
The team with the ball is called offense. The team trying to stop them is defense. Each football team has an offensive team and a defensive team. While the offensive team is in possession of the ball, the defense team is working double time, trying to stop them from advancing, but also trying to get the ball from them by intercepting a pass (a thrown ball) or recovering the ball from a fumble (a dropped ball that is still in motion).
THE HOT QUARTERBACK
There are a bunch of rules and regulations of how to play the game, but we’ll bypass all that. What you need to know is that on the offensive team, the quarterback is the most important guy. He’s the one who gets the ball and hands it off to another player, so that player can run and—ideally—avoid the defensive players as he tries to move the ball forward for his team. The quarterback can also pass the ball, which is always a bit risky because the defense team could intercept it, or he can decide to run with the ball himself. This is also risky, as he could get tackled and hurt—not a good thing for the team’s most important player. Also, the quarterback tends to be rather hot, so keep your eyes peeled.
Most of the players in the offensive team are trying to run the ball, catch the ball or block the defensive players so the guy running with the ball can get through. Although it might not appear so, there is quite a bit of strategy to the game. The team with the most points at the end of the fourth quarter wins. If it’s a tie, they go into sudden death overtime, meaning that the first team to score in an additional 15 minute quarter wins the game, the big trophy and those diamond-encrusted Super Bowl rings!
WHEN IN DOUBT, CHEER!
If all this football talk has left your head spinning and made you long for a pedicure and shopping trip with your best girlfriends, take heart. To enjoy a successful Super Bowl with your fella, the only trick you really need in your playbook is a lot of enthusiasm. Cheer when he cheers, share his outrage at a referee’s bad call, and you’re golden. So crack open another beer, break your New Year’s weight loss resolution long enough to enjoy some nachos and chicken wings, and enjoy the big game!