The Basics of Football


Football, or soccer as it is called in North America, is a team sport that requires endurance and stamina. It involves kicking, running, jumping, and throwing the ball in various directions and with different force, to maneuver it into the opposing team’s goal. The game is played by two teams of 11 players. Only the goalkeeper may touch the ball with his hands or arms and only within a penalty area surrounding the goal. The team that scores more goals wins.

The origin of football is uncertain, but it probably dates back at least 2,000 years, to ancient China, Greece, and Rome, where the game was known as “harpastum” or “pelota.” Its modern form developed in England in the 19th century. During this time, it became a popular entertainment for working class people. It was only in the 1880s that interest in the game increased to a point where paying professional players became possible.

Today, football is a huge industry with many different professional leagues and competitions. In addition, the game is widely played by amateur and youth teams (e.g., high school and Pop Warner little leagues). It is also a central source of civic pride in many small towns in the United States, where local heroes are highly regarded by the townspeople.

At the beginning of each game, an official places the ball on the field and separates the two competing teams by an imaginary line that extends from one sideline to the other. The first team to cross the opponent’s goal line wins the possession of the ball and begins the game. The other team must stop the progress of the ballcarrier by tackling him or pushing him out of bounds.

Each offensive play in a game of football is limited to four tries, or downs, to move the ball 10 yards or more. If a team fails to do this, it must hand the ball off to another player. The defensive team can tackle or block the runner, and it can also intercept passes thrown to other players.

The offensive team consists of one quarterback, one fullback, and two wide receivers. The quarterback is the leader of the offense and receives the ball after it is snapped (kicked back to him by a center). He passes or hands off the ball to a running back, or he runs with it himself. The wide receivers are positioned near the sidelines, and their job is to catch passes thrown by the quarterback or other players. The defense also consists of linebackers and guards. In addition to tackling the ballcarrier, they try to prevent him from crossing the other team’s goal line. Occasionally, the defense will intercept a pass that the offensive team intended to throw to a teammate, or push the ballcarrier out of bounds. These plays are called turnovers. If the defensive team gets the ball, they can then run it back to the other team’s own 10-yard line for a new set of plays.