Have you ever sat through a four hour long football game in a room full of diehard fans screaming at their televisions and thought to yourself; are these people are crazy? If you just cannot get into football, if it doesn’t make any sense to you, if you just don’t understand the yearning to sit and watch a game for four hours; this is the guide for you.  A beginner’s guide to football to get you acclimated with the football crowd this fall.

Believe it or not, I was once sitting right where you are. I’ve been totally lost during football games, bored out of my mind watching them on TV and totally misplaced in the crowd at a football game.  However, I have learned to love the sport and I love being a football fan.  I have always been surrounded by football.  My mom is definitely one of those stereotypical crazy diehard Cleveland Browns fans. However, unfortunately for my dad, he has to remain a closet Steelers fan due to my mother’s Browns insanity. I however have sided with my dad as a Steelers fan.  Unlike my father, I have chosen not to hide my pride and to openly be their fan.  My mother is definitely not too excited about this, but I think that she is just happy that I have gotten into the sport.  If you’re like me and are just learning to love the sport, here are some guidelines to help start you off down the right path:

  1. Find a team that you love:

Most fans decide that they will want to be a fan of the team that is nearest to where they live.  However if you’re anything like me, you know that you do not have to be a fan of the team that your city is nearest too. Being a Steeler fan from Cleveland I got me a lot of flak. A great place to start is the Gannon University football team. You may already be attending these games and supporting the knights, which is fantastic! With the help of this guide, you can become a football FANatic! Once you have your team, it is easier to learn to love the sport. It is easier to be a supporter of a team than a supporter of the sport. Once you have your team, you will want to familiarize yourself with the roster. Learning the players’ names and numbers will help with fostering your love for the team.  Being able to cheer for a player by name is much more meaningful than just cheering for number 43.

  1. Learning about the game:

In order to feel like you are not just another fan in the stands or on the couch you need to learn the basic rules of football so you can understand how the game flows. A football game consists of four quarters of play, 15 minutes each. First there is one 11 man team that has the football, they are called the offense, and they try to advance the ball down the field by running the ball or throwing it. In order for the offense to score points, they need to cross the goal line and get the football into the area called the end zone. The other team, also with 11 players, is called defense. It tries to stop the offensive team and make them give up possession of the ball. If the team does score or is forced to give up possession, the offensive and defensive teams switch roles; And so on, back and forth, until all four quarters of the game have been played. For a full report on a quick guide to learning football check out this link:


  1. Watching football on TV:

When watching football on TV, there are a few important tips to remember. Once you have your team and know the basic rules of the game, you will want to start by watching football on TV to help see the football rules in action.  If there are fans from the other teams viewing the game as well, remember you have to be respectful of the other team. Cheer and support your team, but do not dig the other team.  Watching your team on TV is an easy way to get into football because there are commercial breaks for timeouts and breaks in the play that will help to deal with the long boredom of a four hour production. Another benefit to watching the game on TV is that at almost every football viewing party, there are awesome snacks provided. If you are invited to a football viewing party you may want to bring along a snack or appetizer, your hosts will be sure to continue to send you invites. A few of my favorite football snacks are: Buffalo wing dip, pimento cheese dip, slow cooker spinach dip and seven layer dip. If you bring any sort of chip and dip combo to a football viewing party your hosts will love you.

  1. Tailgate:

Another important aspect of football season is tailgating. Some fans tailgate and do not attend the actual game. Tailgating typically takes place in a stadium parking lot surrounded by parked cars.  When you are invited to a tailgate remember that you may want to bring your own drinks or food. However, most of the time food will be provided. Always be sure to dress in all of your favorite team apparel. Things to expect at a tailgate party:

  • Lots of food
  • Lots of drinking
  • Lots of fans
  • Lots of fun

The fans at tailgates are typically there to celebrate and get excited about the game that day.  So remember when you are at a tailgate the main purpose is to celebrate and prepare for the football game! Do not feel afraid to be passionate and enthusiastic about your team!

  1. Attend a live football game:

You know what comes next. Attending the game! If you attended the pregame tailgate, remember that there is a time to leave this tailgate and make it to the game on time to support your team! Be sure you have your tickets in hand and check the stadium’s policy on what you can bring in with you. You do not want to have to leave your bags in the trash because they do not fit the size regulations. Most college stadiums do not have requirements on items you can and cannot bring.  Gannon, for example, lets you bring any size bag!  However, if you’re visiting one of the NFL stadiums, here is a link to find what you can and cannot bring in:


Once you are in the stadium have fun and cheer loud (like this guy)!

  1. Continue to support your team:

After the game is over, your commitment as a football fan is not over.  Be sure to support your team wherever you go.  Buy more apparel and wear it wherever you go this fall!  Watch your team on TV and maybe even host your own viewing party or tailgate. Once you have completed all of the steps in this beginners guide to football I am sure you will understand the sport more completely as well as love anything and everything that’s football, trust me.