Speaking Football 101
More advice for sudden Seahawks fans from my brother Bill Savage, English prof and football fanatic.óDan Savage
A bandwagon-jumper’s guide to football nomenclature, in the spirit of Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. Part I.
Cheerleader: sideline reminder that not all men care to watch large hypermasculine men hit each other. Vital connection to traditional patriarchal heteronormative notions of feminine virtue and family values.
Offense: When a team has the ball.
Defense: When a team doesn’t have the ball. These are actually metaphysical concepts, as when a ball is turned over via fumble or interception, the teams instantly switch from offense to defense and vice versa, and the rules which apply to players’ conduct on each team also change. As when Republicans impeach a Democratic President, but then do not impeach a Republican President for far worse infractions, because the rules have changed.
Special Teams: Where the developmentally disabled play football.
Referee: Solon in stripes, adjudicator of game actionóconsidered a wise and just applier of penalties to your opponent, blind and bought-off applier of penalties to your team. Also known as Zebras, for their equine qualities, as they tend to herd together and talk pointlessly without accomplishing anything, whenever under stress. See Democratic Congressional Caucus.
The Spread: not the sort my brother writes about. This is the calculation, by professional gamblers, of the two teams’ relative strength, expressed in points. The Steelers are currently favored by three and a half; that means if you bet on Pittsburgh to win, they have to win by four points or more (covering the spread). If you bet on Seattle to win and they lose by 3 or fewer, you win as the Seahawks have beat the spread. Anyone in Seattle betting on Pittsburgh due to the spread will go to Hell.
The Spot: Not the spot my brother writes about. It’s where the official places the ball at the end of play. If the spot favors your team, it’s good; if it favors your opponent, the ref is in the bag. See Referee.