Tips for New Fans
Like any sport, football is confusing to watch
if you have never played it yourself or you didn’t
grow up watching it. Here are a few things you
can do to learn more about the game.
1. Read about the basics.
Here are a few sites you should visit to learn
more about the game:
SportSpectator Fan's Guide
Football Write-up: Good wiki community write-up
Rule Center: Digest of rules, beginner's guide,
football basics, and official’s signals.
-1b. Consider buying one or several of the following
Complete Idiot's Guide to Football
Made Simple: A Spectator's Guide
Bubbles! A Football Primer for Moms, Wives, and
Your Own Damn Beer
Chicks' Guide to Football
2. Watch televised games. Commentator
language and analysis makes the game much easier
to follow and will help you pick up the lingo.
Watching games live at the stadium is a slower
learning process. In the fall, college games are
on Saturday and pro games are on Sunday, as well
as Monday night. John Madden, for example, is
a good commentator for the beginner.
3. Pick a team and follow it throughout
a season (college or pro). Games are
much more fun to watch when you have “your
team” and you know the players, record,
etc. See options 5 and 6 below for additional
4. Watch a sports wrap-up show once a
week. Shows such as Sports Center (on
ESPN) and other shows on ESPN or Fox Sports are
good places to find general football information,
learn the lingo, and keep up with “your”
team. Saturday night is best for college wrap-ups.
Sunday night is a best for pro wrap-ups.
5. Know the names of the key position
players. Football players are almost
always referred to by their last names. Just knowing
the three key position players will make you sound
like a well-informed fan.
Quarterback and running back:
The quarterback and running back are the two best-known
players on the team. Know their names and follow
their progress during the season. For a quarterback,
pay particular attention to his yards-per-game
(300 or more is good), touchdowns (3 or more is
good), and touchdown-to-interception ratio (more
interceptions than touchdowns is very bad). For
a running back, pay attention to yards-per-game
(100 is a very good game).
Wide receiver: While there are
several receivers on each team, there is usually
one primary receiver who is well-known. His important
statistics will be yards-per-game (100 is good)
and touchdowns (a single touchdown in a game can
make for a good performance).
6. Stay current on the games you watch
and teams you follow. ESPN.com publishes
previews before college and pro games. NFL.com
publishes pro previews. These previews describe
match-up analysis. You can also visit “your
team’s” clubhouse on either of these
sites to learn more about players, injuries, etc.
Memorize a few statistics and work them into a
conversation to impress your friends. Local newspapers
will also provide good coverage of local teams
(usually high school, college, and pro). The magazine
Sports Illustrated is also a good place to read
about players, teams, etc.