I enjoy getting caught up in major sporting events. The current problem with watching american football for me is the timezone. I wanted to watch the Superbowl yesterday, unfortunately I couldn’t as it was on around midday here in Sydney, smack bang in the middle of my shift. Instead I watched these highlights later on.

Midday on a Monday didn’t stop many Sydneysiders gathering in bars and casinos to watch the game on the televisions that tuned in around the city. I am sure many American tourists were able to watch the game and enjoy a beer in the sun… It was a pretty friendly timezone for those that were without work commitments.

But a confession. There are a few things I still don’t get about the sport, things that I have been too lazy to actually research and has been the only thing that has held me back from getting really into the game. I am ashamed of this.

There are a few questions that stand out for me. I am sure I have plenty more however an understanding of these will be enough for me to actually watch a game with a greater enjoyment to confusion ratio.

1. Those yellow flags thrown on the field from time to time, what offences are they acknowledging?

2. The knee down in the end zone after a punt. I’m not sure of this one either.

3. A fumble. How does a fumble differentiate from an incomplete pass? Does a player have to simply touch the ball for it to be classed as a fumble? Do two hands need to be on the football before it’s loose? Does the football have to avoid touching the floor?

4. At 6.47 in the highlight video, after analyzing the replays to determine if it is a touchdown the referee states ‘The receiver possesses the football and becomes a runner’. Does becoming a ‘runner’ change the play? Are runners restricted to certain limitations or have to adhere to differing rules?

So much to learn, so little time.


I could Google the answers to these, but that would be boring. With the majority of my audience being American, it would be silly to not make a post of it and speak the community. Much more fun.

Did you watch it wherever you are in the world?

And last question… was it a good thing that the Eagles beat the Patriots?


Featured Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

52 thoughts

  1. Canadian football is different than the US version, but many do watch the US version, & it always makes the sports news.

    My husband is a Canadian football fan, not the US version at all, & I listen to music on headphones when he watches.

    Hockey is the big thing here, but I HATE hockey, & am so glad husband doesn’t watch.

    1. Oh yeah hockey seems huge over there. I like ice hockey. Canadian football… I will have to look that up. It doesn’t get coverage in the UK!

  2. I can help a tiny bit. The flags are for offenses on the plays that are in motion on the field. When the ref sees things like a player offside (past the point of where the ball is placed before the play begins), or illegal hit (no helmet to helmet depending on the player) they immediately throw the flag so that the head referee can see there is a problem with the play and can check with them on what the offense is. There are lots of reasons to throw the flag.

    The knee in the end zone is that the ball will automatically be placed on the 20 yard line unless you want to try and run the ball once it is caught. If the player catches the ball and runs with it they get it where they are tackled. It is all a strategic action. Do you return it? Do you kneel? What can your people do? How far into the end zone was the punt?

    Hope that helps a bit.

    1. Thanks a bunch! Offside is also another question I should have asked, although you cleared that up a little, so thanks haha.
      So if the ball is placed on the 20 yard line, is this classed as a first down?
      I appreciate your help to clear some things up for a novice like me!

      1. No, that wouldn’t be the first down of the game or play. The first down would be the next play that they move the ball 10 yards.

      2. Cool, I appreciate you helping me get to that end zone of knowledge! I might be fully there in time for the next Super Bowl, that hopefully I will be able to watch this time.

      3. I didn’t like either team playing this year but you have to watch, eat lots of bad food for you that tastes so good, and cheer with friends and family.

      4. To add to koolaidmoms’ comment on the knee down. If you catch and carry the ball it risks losing yardage if you get pushed into a worse position and then tackled. They are assuring the best position for the ball to start from without risk when they control the ball and then touch a knee down – essentially tackling themselves officially. If things look open to get an even better position they’ll catch and run to that position and then go down.

      5. I remember one Super Bowl not too long ago, the guy catching the ball ran all the way for a touchdown. That may have been the first time I watched the sport actually, although I cannot recall what game this was.

      6. There was a really long run for a touchdown in the 2nd time the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl. It’s so exciting when that happens. Even I can get passion for the sport with dramatic plays like that. Or when a young team works together and keep their feet through all kinds of tackle attempts, and it looks impossible that their balance, speed and power could achieve such things. Yes, when it’s moving, I actually like the game. 🙂

  3. For it to be a fumble the player has to have possession of the ball, meaning he is in control of the ball. If the player drops the ball without being downed that is a fumble.
    Your other question on being deemed a runner is because in order for a catch to be deemed a catch the player must be in control of the ball. Usually this is marked by two steps. In this case the player took two steps and was no longer a receiver as he was in control of the ball. This when he dropped the ball in the inzone, it could have been a fumble if he did not recover the ball. This two step rule is where calls can be controversial. Another Eagles touchdown happened when the receiver caught the ball took one step and his second step was right on the line of in/out.
    I cheered for the Eagles. Because my team (Minnesota Vikings) lost right before the bowl, and also because Tom Brady and the Patriots always go to the super bowl. This is the Eagles first ever win.

    1. I believe a receiver also has to touch the ball with both hands and/or get it tucked to their body to gain possession of the ball, correct? Or is it either two steps or two hands…do you know pinsforthetwins? I suspect it will give our non-American friends some amusement in how difficult it is for us Americans to know all the rules and apply them. I’m not much of a football fan since a good deal of the game is spent in controversy about applying the rules to given situations, and there’s short action in between. But for the big fans, it seems that’s much of what watching a game consists of – It’s a fest of suggesting what plays and or player substitutions they would have used, and what calls they would have made, and then arguing passionately about such, either amongst themselves or railing against the coaches and refs by yelling at the TV. I like soccer, or as vinceunlimited says below, Football (of the other ilk) and tennis. Much more action and quite a bit less time on controversy.

      My husband and I only tuned in a couple times to check on the progress of the Superbowl this year. We watched something else at the same time. We did tune in for the final 30 seconds or so, which actually took about 10 minutes, I think. So we saw the Eagles win, and we got to see them receive their trophy at last. We loved the excitement and glory of the fans and players that had never had a win. We could relate since our Seahawks had that moment just a few years ago. Fun!

      1. It doesn’t need to be with both hands it just needs to be tucked or in control. Adrian Peterson when he was a rookie caused so many fumbles because he held the ball with one hand. Usually possession is tucked in. The two steps determines the forward motion, creates a runner. You have some plays where the player will catch the ball and get tackled without a step being taken. Sometimes in those plays having hands on the ball will apply. You can have a player that caught the ball and hadn’t tucked it in, get tackled. As long as he firmly had the ball and did not drop it while being tackled he had possession. Doesn’t matter if he caught with both hands or not. To determine a touchdown though the ball must have broken the plane as well as both feet must be in the end zone. So you can have a guy get tackled in the end zone after catching the ball if both feet would have landed inside.
        For me watching football was a way of bonding with my dad. He was a coach in his spare time and I sometimes would run drills in the backyard.

      2. I will say passing rules are slightly different than running rules. A running back or a runner just has to get the ball crossing the plane prior to being downed or out of bounds.

      3. Well this certainly helps with understanding, so thank you for taking the time to provide some information! It is also great that the sport helped you and your dad bond, sport is great for that.
        It will help a lot to see these rules applied and to listen to commentators analyse the plays, I bet the more I watch I will come to understand a lot better pretty fast.

      4. Blasphemy in my family to say this, but now that I work for a German company I am trying to learn more about soccer/real football! Sports is truly a great way for people to bond

      5. The great thing about soccer is that it is such a worldwide sport, you can travel anywhere in the world and meet people with the same interest in the game. You can bond even without knowing the language! The language of football is a great language to learn 🙂

      6. Ah, that explains your precise knowledge too. Thanks for the excellent explanation. I know quite a bit from watching with my brother and my dad – and just because I’m interested in knowing the ins and outs of things – but there are so many specifics it’s hard to keep track of the nitty-gritty sometimes. The first time the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl was a great time for seeing rules applied and mis-applied. It was brutally controversial throughout and spoiled the game for us. But that’s the way the football bounces. 🙂

      7. ‘That’s the way the football bounces’, a new phrase for me! I was getting bored of the ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles’ too, this is a refreshing change haha.

      8. I am from England so football, or soccer, is my sport. It is interesting watching Am. Football when taking into account the stops and starts, the hardest thing for me is tolerating that when I am used to 90 minutes of action with only a fifteen minute break in the middle! And soccer isn’t without controversy, I am sure you’re aware of that though… Rules such as offside can be debated long into the night!

  4. Being from the UK I could glibly state that it is not Football. If it was Football there were one or two hand ball decisions not picked up on by the dozens of referees. OK, so that’s your American readers slightly wound up so lets move them all up to full on fury mode. My second point is why did the winning team claim they are the World Champions? I understand that in Baseball a claim can be made about being a World Champion because they play in a World Series possibly named so because of a sponsorship by The New York World newspaper, so I will let that one slide. But is the Super Bowl match really a world championship? If so can the UK and Australia enter teams next year?

    1. Honestly as an American, I thought that comment was really weird too. Also the World Series for Baseball shouldn’t make that claim either, no other country is ever represented in it either.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. I have never heard that opinion from an American. Having said all this if these sports were opened up to a world wide competition the USA teams would surely win anyway because of their experience and passion for these games.

      2. America has a great mix of wealth, investment in sports and population…. it is a powerhouse in sport! I imagine the USA could win a FIFA World Cup before England does again…

      3. What are your thoughts on a UK team in the NFL? Would you welcome a team from outside of the States competing? I feel that is a long flight for an away game… however the States is a huge country in itself!

      4. Every year there is a game over in London. This year my team played that game, as I was living in Germany at the time it was fun to go out with colleagues and explain it. It seems like many Europeans really are interested in the sport, which would give a team a good following. I think the hardest part would just be scheduling the games.

      5. Yep many Europeans do like watching. As well as the timezone, it seems every other game would be a mega long trip for the London team haha. I am sure they will work it out, a bit jet lag never harmed anyone :p

    2. Haha I doubt this will get anyone into full fury mode… and you shouldn’t be trying to wind anyone up anyway! You should watch a game, who knows you might enjoy it.
      I agree with the ‘World Series’ title seeming strange, however they are considering a UK team for the NFL… maybe it will soon become more of a worldwide league.

      1. I started to watch American Football when it was first being televised here, I think on Channel 4. It is an interesting game, made more enjoyable the more it is watched. The nuances and tactics become more apparent. The constant offence/defence switching and specialist players like the kickers is irritating because of the breaks in play. I presume College Football or such a level the teams remain on to do both attack and defence. I have also watched a few Super Bowl matches but they are always scheduled late at night here in the UK so you have to be dedicated to watch it. The other thing is I find it less appealing to watch a match between two teams from cities I have no knowledge of, no skin in the game. Any sport is more enjoyable if you have a passion for one to beat another, even if it is just an underdog versus a Goliath. Finally, my comment on ‘fury mode’ was added to anticipate and dissipate any real fury but equally encourage a bit of feedback. If I really wanted fury mode I’d be commenting on a Daily Mail article. Or suggest that Australian Rules Football is silly.

      2. I am well aware of Channel 4 late night games as I have tried and failed to stay awake long enough! I have been to a college game, it was fun. But I could not tell you the difference between that and the NFL, other than the college nature and many people told me that college players are more dedicated as they want to become professional. This I am sure is depending on who you speak to.

  5. with respect to question 3: it has been agreed this year that no one can figure out exactly what an incomplete pass is.

    the first super bowl happened in 1967. it was a modest affair. LBJ was U.S. President. Nobody thought Nixon would ever make a comeback. The U.S. was thought to be about to “clean up” Viet Nam.

    the super bowl has changed sort of in the way we’ve gone from LBJ to Trump.


    1. Haha, it would be interesting to see how the SB has changed throughout the decades… I love watching sport from a long time ago. Whether it is how the commentators talked or the old fashioned rules and techniques, time is a fascinating thing.

  6. Actually, Sam, they seem to make up some of the rules as they go along. Just like our political system.
    PS — Thanks for letting us have a crack at winter. We’ll return it as soon as were done with it.

    1. Many people have said that… it seems like rules are causing a problem in the games! And please don’t return winter, not yet anyway.

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