American Sports

Football

American football (橄榄球. Soccer is 足球) has become the most popular sport in this country. The professional football league, NFL (National Football League), has two conferences: AFC and NFC. AFC (American Football Conference) now has 17 teams. NFC (National Football Conference) has 15 teams. In a regular season (September to the end of the year), a team will play a game each week, usually on Sundays. Then each conference has 8 teams entering the playoffs. The season finale is when the two conference champions play in the Super Bowl, which is also the biggest sport event of the year.

A football game has four quarters of 15 minutes each. At a particular time, the team that has the ball attacks, while the other team plays defense. The offense side tries to have one player pass the finish line with the ball, or throw the ball past the finish line and have someone on the team catch it on the other side of the line. This is called a touchdown, which is worth 6 points. After a touchdown, the offensive side has an opportunity to kick the ball and let it pass through the poles to get an additional point. To make the game more interesting, the offensive side can choose to try another touchdown (instead of kicking the ball) and have a chance to get 2 points. Kicking the ball through the poles without first having a touchdown will get 3 points.

The offense side has 4 chances to move the ball for a total of at least 10 yards forward, in order to get another round of chances. The four chances are called "first down," "second down," "third down," and "fourth down." Usually the "fourth down" is used to kick the ball, either to get 3 points, or to make the other team start their offense from a point that is far away from their finish line. Each offense starts with a player throw the ball backward through his legs to the quarterback. Then the quarterback passes the ball to someone, who tries to catch it and carry it forward. If the ball ends up in a defender's hand, the offense side lose the ball immediately and becomes the defense side.

College football is played mostly within each conference during the regular season. A conference has around 10 schools. Each school is in the same conference for all different sports: football, basketball, track and field, etc. The regular season for college football starts early September and ends before Christmas. Then the best teams are invited to play in the different bowls: Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, etc. These bowl games are played between Christmas and New Year. Being invited to play in Sugar Bowl is considered the highest honor in college football.

Basketball

NBA has Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Regular season starts in late October and ends in April, during which a team will play about a game every other day. In each conference, 8 teams enters the play-offs to determine the conference champion. The first two rounds of play-offs will be determined by up to 5 games. The conference championship will be determined by up to 7 games. Then the champions of both conferences will play up to 7 games to determine the champion of the season.

College basketball is mostly played within conferences. Regular season starts in late Fall, and ends early March. Then it's the conference play-offs, where conference champions are generated. The climax of the season is "March Madness," where 64 men's teams are selected to play in the "NCAA Championship." NCAA stands for National Collegiate Athletic Association. In this championship, the 16 teams the are left after two rounds are called "sweet 16." The 8 teams left after the next round are called "elite eight." The next 4 winning teams are called "final four." The champion is called the National Champion (The NBA champion is called the World Champion).

Baseball

Baseball used to be the most popular sport in US. People still call baseball the "good old game." Many terms came from baseball, such as "home run," "baseline," "touch base," "home base," etc.

Each game has 9 innings. In every inning, each team has a chance to be on the offense side. The most important person on the defense side is the one who throw the ball, called the pitcher (投手). The offense side sends one person at a time, called batter, to hit the ball. Each pitch (throw) can have one of the following results:

  • Ball: the ball is thrown too high/low, or too left/right. If the same batter gets 4 balls, he is automatically sent to the first base (called walk).
  • Strike: the ball is thrown to a good position but the batter misses it. If the same batter has three strikes, he is out (出局). The inning is over for the offense team if three are out.
  • Out of bound: the batter hit the ball out of bound. The game continues as if nothing has happened.
  • Catch: the ball is hit by the batter and does not go out of range, but is caught by one of the defenders before touching the ground or the wall. The batter is out.
  • Fair ball: the ball is hit by the batter, does not go out of range, and touches the ground before being caught by a defender. Then the batter must run to the first base and possibly the other bases. His teammates who are already occupying a base can run to the next base and so on. If a defender holds the ball and touches one of the offensive player who is running between bases, that runner is out. If a runner comes back to the home base after touching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bases, the offense team scores 1 point. If the ball ends up somewhere (e.g. on the other side of the wall) that no defender can catch it, it's called a home run (本垒打)

A variation of baseball is softball (垒球), for women, children, etc. The ball is smaller and softer. The game has 7 innings, instead of 9. The pitcher has to throw the ball from blow the shoulder.

Other Sports

Other popular professional sports are ice hockey, soccer, tennis, and golf. Many people like to watch gymnastics and figure skating. Lacrose is popular in some east coast states, and is only played in schools.

 
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