Football is one of the most popular sports in
North America.
Here in North America, “football” means something very different from what the word refers to in much of the rest of the world. The game that Europeans call “football” is known here as “soccer;” and what we call football, they call “American football” or “Tackle football.” Despite the similarities in name, the games have almost nothing in common besides running and kicking, but football nevertheless is one of the most popular sports in North America!

Football shares its roots with the European game called rugby, and is played with a similar type of ball: in this case, leather and roughly oval-shaped with pointed ends. It is a team game with the goal of scoring points by getting the ball into your opponent’s end zone thereby scoring a touchdown. In order to advance the ball across the massive field, a player can either carry it or throw it to a teammate. The other team attempts to stop the advance by intercepting the ball when it is thrown, or tackling a runner who is carrying the ball, resulting in a down. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Here are some terms you might come across when watching or talking about football.

Defensive backs: The last line of defense, who cover the receivers and try to stop passes. Occasionally, they may rush the quarterback.

Defensive line: Three to six players who line up across from the offensive line. They try to occupy them to free up the linebackers, disrupt the players behind the offensive line, and tackle the running back before he can gain yardage or pass the ball.

Down: An attempt to advance the ball toward the opposing team’s end zone. A team has four attempts – four downs – in which to advance the ball at least ten yards.

Drive: A team’s overall attempt to reach the opposing team’s end zone and score.

End zone: The 10-yard-long zone at each end of the field which a team must carry the ball into in order to score.

Field goal: A type of score, worth 3 points, resulting from kicking the ball between the opposing team’s goal posts.

Fumble: When an offensive player drops the ball and it is picked up by a member of the defensive team.

Goal post: Two posts at the end of each end zone. A ball can be kicked between the goal posts to score a field goal.

Huddle: A brief gathering of the team before a play to discuss strategy, motivate, or celebrate.

Interception: When the defensive team catches a ball thrown by the offensive team. Results in a turnover.

Kickoff: The action that starts a play at the beginning of each half. One team kicks the ball to the other, which then tries to run as far towards the opposing team’s end zone as it can before getting tackled. The point at which they get tackled is where they will begin their drive.

Linebackers: Players who line up between the defensive line and the defensive backs and either rush the quarterback or cover potential receivers.

Line of scrimmage: An imaginary line along which the offensive and defensive players face each other at the beginning of each snap.

Offensive line: Five offensive players whose role is to protect the passer and clear the way for runners by blocking members of the defensive team.

Overtime: An extra period lasting up to 15 minutes if both teams are tied at the end of the second half. Generally, the first team to score wins the game.

Punt: The act of dropping the ball and kicking it to the defensive team before it hits the ground. This is usually done during the fourth down if the team feels it cannot advance to the next ten yard line during that time; by sacrificing the ball, they can have the opposing team start their play further back on the field.

Quarterback: The leader of the offensive team, responsible for calling the offensive play during the huddle. Will usually take the ball after a snap and either run or pass it to another player.

Running back: Players who line up near the quarterback and specialize in running with the ball. They may also block or catch passes.

Rush: The act of running with the ball.

Safety: A fairly rare type of score, worth 2 points, that results from an offensive player being tackled, going out of bounds, losing the ball out of bounds, or committing a foul while in his own end zone.

Snap: The beginning of a play, in which an offensive player bounces the ball (snaps it) between his legs to the quarterback.

Tight end: Players who line up outside the offensive line and can act either as wide receivers or offensive linemen.

Touchdown: A type of score, worth 6 points, resulting from carrying the ball into the opposing team’s end zone.

Turnover: When control of the ball switches from one team to the other.

Wide receiver: Players who line up near the sidelines and specialize in catching passes, though they also block after another receiver catches the ball.

The logo of the Toronto
Although the NFL currently has no full-time Canadian teams, one American team, the Buffalo Bills, do occasionally play in Toronto at the Rogers Centre, and there is talk that they may move to Toronto when their owner, currently in his nineties, passes away.

If you’d like to catch games starring Canadian teams, then get tuned into the Canadian Football League (CFL). The eight teams currently playing in the CFL are:

East Division

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Montreal Alouettes

Toronto Argonauts

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

West Division

BC Lions

Calgary Stampeders

Edmonton Eskimos

Saskatchewan Roughriders