America’s show piece of sport will be hitting Australia tomorrow morning, for Super Bowl XLVI (46).
An estimated 111 million people watched last year’s Super Bowl. How can a game of 60 minutes playing time, which takes around four hours to play, appeal to so many people?
Are people just waiting for the half time ads, the hope of a sneak peak at Janet Jackson’s nipple (which became known as Nipplegate in 2004) or the unsurpassable speed of athletes who could almost be Olympians colliding with men, who could be on The Biggest Loser and can weigh up to 300 pounds (136 kg)?
“NFL is one of the most amazing games in the world. The speed, power and strength of these players really is incredible. Some of them could definitely cause some damage in Rugby League”, said Chris Anderson, former Australian Rugby League coach.
Rugby League, Rugby Union and AFL have longer game times, but are often finished in half the time. You might need a degree to understand every intricate detail and rule of NFL, about what the 11 players on the field of a 45 team roster are actually doing, but here are the basic rules to help you understand what will be happening when the New York Giants suit up and tackle the New England Patriots tomorrow (10.30am AEST)), in a repeat of the epic Super Bowl in 2008.
Games are divided into four, 15 minute quarters. At the end of the first and third quarters, the team with the ball retains possession heading into the following quarter. That is not the case before halftime. The second half starts with a kickoff in the same way as Rugby League or Union.
HOW IT WORKS
Each team essentially has 4 tackles to try and make 10 yards (just over 9m).
If a team manages 10 yards (or longer) they are then given the opportunity to try and make another 10 yards within 4 tackles. In NFL terms it is called a down rather than a tackle. Eg/ if it is 2nd and 8, this means that the offensive team is on its 2nd tackle and they still need to make a further 8 yards to reach 10 yards and receive their next set of 4 downs (tackles).
On the 4th down, if the offensive team is too far away to kick a field goal, they will kick the ball for field position, like in League on the 5th tackle.
The main difference between Australian codes of football and NFL is, that after the ball is kicked, the kicking team isn’t allowed to re-gather the ball.
Play begins at what is called the line of scrimmage. The offensive team is allowed to only throw the ball forward, once, behind this line of scrimmage. However each team may pass the ball backwards as many times as they like (which is termed ‘a lateral’).
A player is tackled when one or both of his knees touch the ground. The play is then over (even if the ball comes loose).
A touchdown (which is the same as a try) is worth 6 points. To score a touchdown if you are running towards the goal line, the ball simply needs to cross the goal line (it doesn’t have to be grounded over the goal line). If someone is catching the ball in the ‘end zone’ (in goal area), the person catching the ball needs to have two feet in bounds at some point in time.
After a touch down is scored, the offensive team tries to convert the touch down which is worth one point. This kicking conversion attempt is taken from directly in front of the goal posts.
Teams can also attempt a 2 point conversion, which is where they will try and score a touchdown again, from the opponent’s 2 yard line.
Like in Rugby, field goals are worth 3 points and can be attempted from any position on the field.
In order to win the game, the team who wins the coin toss must score a touchdown on their first possession.
If they only score a field goal, the opposing team then gets a chance to score. If they kick a field goal, the game continues. If they score a touchdown, the game ends.
If the game is tied after both teams have had a possession, then the next score wins.
If you’ve never watched NFL before, this is the game to do it. There’s no better excuse to drink Budweiser with your US clients for four hours and eat hotdogs dripping in ketchup and mustard!
The best viewing spots will be The Light Brigade in Paddington and James Squire Brewhouse on King Street Wharf.
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