As the Washington Valor took down the Baltimore Brigade in both teams’ Arena Football League (AFL) debuts on Friday night, some spectators were introduced to the league and its’ funky goal posts for the very first time.
For those peeps (trust me, you’re not alone), I’d like to extend a warm welcome. Although many of us are familiar with the basic concepts of American football taught from Pop Warner to the NFL, the AFL is unique.
Staying with the football theme, here’s a list of the six most frequently asked questions you’ll want to keep track of for your next AFL adventure.
1. Q: I watched the entire game and saw not one punt, is this heaven?
A: Punting is illegal in AFL competitions. Might not quite be heaven, but football-wise, can’t get any closer.
2. Q: Am I crazy, or does the field look shorter than I’m used to?
A: The AFL playing field is cut in half, and is only 50 yards long as opposed to 100. Get used to fast-paced, high-scoring contests.
3. Q: Offensive players can run in motion TOWARDS the line of scrimmage?
A: Yup. One offensive player can move in motion towards the line of scrimmage before the snap in what, essentially, proves to be a running head start for that player.
4. Q: How many players can be on the field at the same time?
A: As you might expect, a shorter field of play requires less players on said field. The AFL allows just eight active players per team at a time.
5. Q: What’s with the foamy barriers surrounding the field?
A: The 48-inch high wall that wraps around the field replaces the conventional sideline and instead emphasizes player safety as they travel within a confined space at blazing speeds. As soon as an offensive player is forced into a barrier by a defensive player, the play is considered dead. The low height of the barriers also encourage interactions with fans who sit just a few feet away from the action.
6. Q: The ball went out of play a few times and I didn’t see anyone throw it back, is that legal?
A: Absolutely. One of the greatest advantages of attending an AFL game is the opportunity to leave with a souvenir. Get good seats!
You should now have a good feel for what’s happening on the field when watching the next AFL contest. And for the overachievers among us, here’s a comprehensive guide: RULES 101.