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If you watch SportsCenter, then this topic isn't for you. Move onto the next topic, please.

But if football doesn't interest you (you know who you are), then read on. You'll learn how can you can actually enjoy watching the big game with your friends.


Pre-Game

Pick a team.
When you have someone to root for, the game is a lot more fun. Read the news or search Google for a story about a player. Or just pick the team with the colors you like.

Make a bet.
You don't have to risk money, but if you wager a face full of peanut butter, then the game gets a lot more interesting.

Stretch.
If you pull a hamstring while watching the big game, you'll look silly.


The Rules

The game is divided into four 15-minute quarters. But expect it to take a lot longer than 60 minutes - more like three human hours - because the clock stops for lots of reasons.

One team (say, the Antelopes) starts on offense. They get to hold the ball and, they hope, score points.

The other team (say, the Cheetahs) starts on defense. They try to stop the Antelopes from scoring points.

The Antelopes want to reach the other end of the field with the ball. But the Cheetahs want to eat - er, tackle the Antelopes to prevent them from scoring.

Note: Any player who actually eats another player on the field would face a multi-game suspension.

Players on each team line up with their butts in the air along an imaginary line. When the Antelopes say go, the Cheetahs attack.

The Antelopes are, like, "Aaaa! Where's my mother? And why is this guy from National Geographic taking pictures of me?"

The Antelopes either run the ball (literally hold the ball and run with it) or pass the ball (when the handsome quarterback throws the ball to a teammate).

Once the Cheetahs tackle the player with the ball, the play is stopped and everyone lines up again.


Scoring

If a player reaches the end of the field (the end zone) while holding the ball, he scores a touchdown (worth 6 points, with a chance to earn 1 or 2 more). At this point, you should get really excited or crazy angry.

If a team gets close to the end zone but doesn't reach it, they can kick the ball between two posts for a field goal (3 points).


Downs (the confusing part)

If a team stayed in one place play after play and never made any progress, then the game would be really boring to everyone, not just to you.

To keep the game interesting, your friends pay attention to downs. As a team tries to score, they have to keep making progress down the field. Otherwise they lose the ball.

When you hear stuff like 1st and 10, use this decoder ring:

1st
The down. Think of each down (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th) as a chance for a team to advance down the field.

10
The number of yards remaining to prove a team's progress.

Here's the important part: If a team moves the ball at least 10 yards after 4 downs, they earn a new 1st down.

"What? This sounds like calculus!" you say. But keep reading, and soon your friends will call you "Football Einstein."

A team always starts at 1st and 10. Now bust out your pen and paper:

Play #1:
The Antelopes run for 3 yards, so now it's 2nd and 7 (7 because they started with 10 yards, and you subtract the 3 yards they ran).

Play #2:
They pass for 8 yards, so they earned a new 1st and 10 (because they needed only 7 yards and got 8, so they showed adequate progress). Hooray!

With their progress, they're farther down the field (closer to scoring points) and rewarded with more plays (downs 1, 2, 3 and 4). But if they fail to show progress, if they fail to go 10 yards in 4 downs, they'll have to give the ball to the Cheetahs.


Faking It

If the game is still boring, find a hashtag for the game on Twitter and yell some of the tweets as if they're your own thoughts.

Or ask probing, intellectual questions, like "What do you think football will look like in ten years?" or "Did you know the maximum speed for a cheetah is 70 mph, but only 61 for an antelope?"


Story Time

Bert never learned the rules of football, so he usually stayed quiet when watching a game with friends.

When he got his first smartphone, he used #cheetahs to follow the game on Twitter. Now he had a secret crib sheet for smart things to say.

One time, after returning from the bathroom, he read a few old tweets about "an amazing catch" and "what a touchdown!" So Bert jumped off the couch and yelled, "What an amazing catch! What a touchdown!"

His friend said, "No, Bert. That's a Ford Focus. It's a car ... commercial."

Going forward, Bert always added "real-time" to his game commentary.