Breaking down football terminology for scholars

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Welcome to Cal, the land of the nerds and home of the brainy. It is well-established, therefore, that as a UC Berkeley student you are a scholar. Congratulations, because you are now merely one short article away from adding “fluent football player” to your resume as well. So, grab your foam finger, purchase your football tickets, and I’ll get you the facts to keep you in the know as this homecoming season kicks off.

The mathematician

For all you mathematically inclined whizzes, let us throw some numbers at you. We’re sure, however, you will catch them easily, as your CS and EECS classes have fine-tuned this specific sort of hand-eye coordination. Let’s start with the basics. The football field itself is 100 yards long and 160 feet wide, including a 10-yard end zone on each side. In case you were wondering, the area of that rectangle is 57,600 feet. Moving on to units of time, the game lasts for 60 minutes or 3,600 seconds, which is divided into four quarters. However, if the score is tied at the end of the fourth quarter, the teams meet at the 50-yard line for a second coin toss to determine who starts with the old pigskin for the first overtime possession.

The writer

If numbers are not your primary language of love and you find yourself frolicking about Barrows and Dwinelle halls, let me arm you with your weapon of choice: vocabulary. There are two teams on the field at all times (We do apologize for the number. We tried to keep it small): one on offense with the football, trying to score, and one on defense, thus defending its end zone from the offense. The offensive line tries to block the defense to allow the quarterback to make a play. For example, a rush (when a player runs with the football) or a catch (when the quarterback throws the football down the field). The defensive lineman’s job is to rush the quarterback and either sack him, cause a fumble or generally disrupt the play and cause a turnover. Now, on top of the offense and defense, there is a third party called special teams, composed of the players who handle punts, kickoffs and returns.

The crammer

Finally, however, if you are the type of UC Berkeley student who finds yourself in Moffitt Library for the entirety of dead week memorizing obscure dates for your history final as a Hail Mary attempt to convince your teacher of your in-depth knowledge while actually knowing nothing (not that we would personally know anything about this), here is your “Dead week: Sports version.” Fun fact No. 1: California Memorial Stadium, where all the home games are played, was inspired architecturally by the Roman Colosseum and is dedicated to all Californians and Bears who died while fighting in World War I. Fun fact No. 2 is that we have none other than Herbert Hoover to thank for the origins of the Big Game. As student manager of the Stanford football team, he coordinated with his friend Herbert Lang, Cal football manager, to set up what would become an iconic rivalry.

So, there you have it — even when it comes to athletics we have a future U.S. president to thank for our oldest tradition. Can we get a “Go Bears”? As you prepare to head into homecoming weekend, don’t forget our football breakdown. You’ll be good to go when you step into Memorial Stadium!

Contact McKenna Hathaway at [email protected].