By the numbers:
- 4 quarters per game - broken down into 2 halves with 2 quarters each
- 15 minutes per quarter (although it takes more like 40 minutes to play because the clock stops for various reasons)
- 11 players on the field at a time from each team
- 53 = the number of players a team can keep throughout the season (with a few exceptions that are too tricky to explain here)
Each game starts with a coin toss. The team that wins gets to choose if they want to kick the ball to the other team (putting the coin-toss winners on defense first) or if they want to receive the ball (putting the coin-toss winners on offense first). Whatever the coin-toss winners choose, the opposite is how the second half will start. (So, if the coin-toss winners choose to receive the ball in the first half, then they will start the second half by kicking the ball to the other team.) (*note: the coin-toss winner can also DEFER their choice to the second half, letting the other team choose for the first half, but you don't see that too often.)
The pre-season games are going to be going on for the next few weeks. This is a good time to try to watch football with your football-lover, and here's why:
- Pre-season games don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, so there is less pressure on the players and their fanatical fans. It's basically when the players are fighting for their spot on the team or to become a starter (starter = the person who plays the position at the start of a game - usually the better person who plays that position)
- Since the games don't matter (really), your football-lover might be more willing to pause the game and explain things to you (that's the ideal, right?).
- After watching some pre-season games, you will undoubtedly have more questions (that you can ask on here and I can try to help!)
If you are not used to watching complete football games, I would suggest:
- Watch the start of the game (known as "the kickoff") - and keep watching at least until 4-5 minutes have gone by on the clock. This will give you a good grasp of what goes on.
- Then, you can tune out (or fast forward)
- Watch the start of the second half - it's just like the kickoff, so you'll be used to what you're watching (and watch 4-5 minutes of game clock time, not real life time)
- Tune out or fast forward
- Watch the last 3-4 minutes of time in the 4th quarter. That way, you'll see which team wins and see how a game ends.