What you need to know about American Football


What goes on at an American Football Game?

Alongside baseball American Football is one of the most beloved sports in the United States. Although in recent years it has become more popular internationally, football is still a very American pastime.

American Football is not just a game or sport, it is an important part of American culture and that is why we need to know (at least a little) about it! In this blog we will look at what American Football is, how it started, what to expect and how to prepare to watch a game at the stadium.

What is American Football?

For many of us, the term football makes us think of what is known as Soccer in the United States. So, it can be a little confusing for everyone if someone asks you which team you support and you reply Manchester United!

American football is also sometimes called Gridiron, but most of the time people simply talk about Football. Football is the most popular sport in the United States with over a million high school students playing each year. If you combine this with the number of college players and professional leagues it is easy to imagine the impact Football has on American culture.

To summarize Football is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The team with possession of the football is known as the offense. It is their job to try to advance down the field. They can do this by running with the ball or passing it. It is the defense’s (the team without the ball) job to try to stop them and get the ball for themselves.

The offense must advance at least ten yards in plays called downs. If they fail, they must give the football to the other team. IF they succeed in making 10 yards, they are given a new set of four downs.

The main way points are scored is by running the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the goalposts for a field goal.

History of Football

American football was created by combining aspects of soccer and rugby. The first ever American football match was played on November 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. At this time the rules were based on soccer. Starting in 1880 a man named Walter Camp made changes to the rules, creating an entirely new and independent sport. Since then, the rules have had many changes and adaptations. However, the game today is still largely as Walter Camp set out all those years ago.

High school players hold up an American football

What to expect?

Watching football for the first time can be a little tricky. The rules take some getting used to and there is a lot of strategic play. Arguably, you do not need to really understand the game to enjoy it! There are a lot of cultural aspects that make football fun for everyone regardless of whether you are a fan or not!

Things to expect when you watch football:

  • Football games last for 60 minutes (High school games are a little shorter) BUT they take much, much longer than that. On average football games last for a little over 3 hours due to stoppages and breaks.
  • People are very passionate about their favourite teams. Rivalries are VERY strong.
  • If you are at the stadium you will notice that fans are very loud! There is always a lot of chanting, singing and dancing going on in the stands!
  • Delicious snacks! Whether you are at the stadium or at home, Football means things like nachos, hotdogs, dips and delicious treats!

Preparing to watch a game live

Tickets for the New York Jets, New York Giants and Miami Dolphins sell out quickly and can be quite expensive. It is a good idea to look at the schedule early and book well in advance. Football season generally starts in early September and ends with the Superbowl in January. The schedule for the coming season is usually released in around May.

What should I wear?

As the season starts in Fall you need to be aware that the weather is very changeable. Later in the season when Winter hits, it can get really very cold. Many stadiums have heating but even then, making sure you have enough warm clothes is really important. Generally speaking, you should dress in layers and have a hat and shoes with good soles.

Another thing you might consider wearing is team merchandise! Team merchandise ranges a lot in price, but you can usually pick up a cap or beanie for around $10. Make sure you check if your tickets are in a particular fan block before buying your merchandise!

What can I take into the stadium?

Each stadium has their own individual rules about what you can and can’t bring with you. However, generally speaking, most rules are very similar across the different stadiums. Let’s look at some the things we are not allowed to take into Metlife Stadium where both the Jets and Giants play:

Things that are not allowed:

  • Seat cushions except those for medical needs
  • Glass bottles, cans, coolers, thermoses or ice chests
  • Alcohol of any kind (you can buy it there with ID)
  • Banners of any size
  • Flags that are not the official flag of a country
  • Flag poles or sticks
  • Umbrellas
  • Strollers
  • Laser pointers
  • Balls of any kind including footballs
  • Video/photography cameras with a lens longer than 6"
  • Selfie Sticks
  • Weapons
  • Adult sized football helmets with facemasks
  • Any animal with the exception of a service animal

Also, please note that most stadiums are smoke free (no smoking allowed at all) and also cash free, so you will need your cards to pay for any snacks, drinks etc.

Is a football game a good place for a date?

If you think your date enjoys sport or might enjoy the electric atmosphere of the stadium, then Football can be a fun choice for a date! Remember, the game is really long, so make sure you and your date have enough warm clothes, snacks and have read this blog so you both know what to expect!

What do they sell at the stadium?

At the stadium there are tonnes of options for food, drinks and merchandise. At the moment MetLife Stadium has a “Grab and Go” service. Spectators can order food, drinks and merchandise via the Jets or Giants app. Once you have placed your order and paid via the App you simply report to the pickup counter and get your order.

Food options at the stadium cover all traditional stadium foods and also options for vegetarians. If you are concerned about food or if you have a particular dietary requirement, you may bring food into the stadium with you as long as it is in a clear plastic bag.

Getting to the stadium

Zoni students attending classes at our New York or New Jersey campuses can easily access the MetLife Stadium by bus, subway or Train.

For students studying in Miami, Hard Rock Stadium – the home of the Dolphins – is around 30 minutes’ drive from the Zoni Miami Beach Campus. There are buses that drive to the stadium from South Beach, however you will need to check the routes and times on the day.

Even if you do not like sport and have never seen football before it can be an interesting and exciting cultural experience! The atmosphere in the stadium is always amazing and you can learn a lot about Americans’ love of sport! If you ever get the chance to go to a football game, you should! Enjoy some nachos, drink some beer and join in cheering for the local team!

If you would like to know more about studying at Zoni on campus, visit our website. If you want to know more about studying with Zoni virtually, visit Zoni Live. If you have any questions you can email us at cpoon@zoni.edu

We look forward to welcoming you to the Zoni community!

Players playing American Football during the All Pros match

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