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How to Make the Most of Attending a Football Game

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To the die-hard American football fan, nothing beats watching a football game live. You get caught up in the excitement of cheering for your team. You sometimes get the feeling that the outcome of the game is in your hands — and in a way it is in your hands because cheering loudly can disrupt the other team’s offense and make it difficult for the other team to hear its quarterback barking plays. Most of all, attending a game is just plain fun.

Picking the best seats at a football stadium

The really good seats in every football stadium are near the 50-yard line, 25 rows up, where you can scan the entire field. But those great seats usually belong to longtime season ticket holders. If you aren’t a longtime season ticket holder or lucky enough to have an official sideline credential, the end zone can be a good place to watch a game.

Sitting in the end zone, you can focus on a matchup of two linemen, like a defensive end battling an offensive tackle, and watch how they attack each other. Whoever wins these battles is going to win the war (the game). These individual battles can teach you a lot about football, even when the play or ball is going in the opposite direction. For a team to win, its players need to win these individual battles.

Wherever you sit, make sure you buy a program or check your local newspaper or team website for team depth charts and numbered rosters — these rosters are the only way to identify the many players on the field. A depth chart lists

  • The starting lineups for both teams by their positions on offense and defense

  • The punter, placekicker, snapper for punts and kicks, and kickoff and punt return specialists

  • The reserves alongside the starters on the depth chart, so when a player is injured, you can figure out who will replace him

    [Credit: © iStockphoto.com/Sean Locke]
    Credit: © iStockphoto.com/Sean Locke

Knowing what to focus on during a football game

The beauty of watching a game in person is that you can see the entire play develop:

  • As soon as the center snaps the ball, all 22 players on the field are moving. Television can’t possibly capture that singular moment and every player, too.

  • You can also watch what happens to a quarterback after the ball is released. On television, the camera follows the ball, but in person, you can see whether the quarterback is hit after he releases the ball. Occasionally, the quarterback and a pass-rusher exchange words (or even swings).

  • The special teams play, especially kickoffs and long punts, is exciting to watch in person because you can follow the flight of the ball and the coverage players running full speed toward the kick returner. Because kickoff and punt plays cover so much of the field, often 50 to 70 yards, television can’t capture all the action.

During commercial timeouts, scan the sidelines with your binoculars. You can spot coaches talking strategy with players, and sometimes you can capture an animated conversation or debate. The pace is fast during plays, but there’s enough downtime between plays to check out what’s happening on the sidelines and to figure out, by how teams are substituting, which play may be called next.

Enjoying the halftime show

Except for the elaborate halftime shows at the Super Bowl every year, halftime shows aren’t televised anymore. To see a halftime show, you must attend a game in person.

College game halftime shows usually feature high-spirited bands, drill teams, and cheerleading squads doing their best to rally the fans. Some colleges are famous for their halftime performances. The Stanford University band, for example, often puts on a comic show. At a show during Stanford’s annual game against arch-rival California, the band dressed one member in a California band uniform and had him march around looking extremely confused during the Stanford performance.


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