Sports Conudrums

“Offsides!” I holler.  We’re watching an especially exciting football game.  Thus, the vocalization.

“No,” my husband says, “that’s not offsides.”

“Oh, okay.  Then it’s encroachment, right?”

“Nope, it was a false start.”

Wait. What?

It took more than one explanation, but I finally got it.  (Not that I’ll remember the differences…)  In case you too are wondering, offsides is a player in the neutral zone between the teams at the same time the ball is snapped.  Okay.  That takes a quick eye on the part of the officials, right?

“Encroachment,” he goes on, “is when a defensive player makes contact with an offensive player before the ball is snapped.  You do know the difference between the offense and the defense?  Offen–”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  That I do know.”  I secretly think, Sometimes all the players are offensive.  But that’s another story.

“Then what’s a false start?”  I’m beginning to think I’ll regret asking that question.

“Okay, ready?”  When I nod, he goes on.  “A false start is when an offensive line player makes any movement before the ball snaps.”

“I thought that was offsides?”

“Nope.  That happens At. The. Same. Time. The ball is snapped.”

Wait. What?

“Okay.  I’ll remember that.”  No, I won’t.  But I’m not going through it all again.

That sets me thinking about soccer.  I love watching soccer, especially when I can watch the grandson in person.  Soccer has offsides too, doesn’t it?

Wait. What?

So, I looked it up.  Mainly because my husband is a whiz with some sports, but neither of us has a clue when it comes to soccer.  Here’s what I found: An attacking player is offside if any part of their body, other than their hands and arms, is in the half of the opposing team and there isn’t another player from the opposing team between them and the goalkeeper before the ball is played forward.

Yowza!  How on earth can an official see if anything “other than hands and arms” is over the line?  How can the players keep track?

Okay.  I can do this.  So, a player with the ball can’t move forward into the opponent’s half of the field, toward the goal, unless there’s an opponent plus the goalkeeper between the player and the goal.

Um.  Sounds good on paper.  Now, we’ll see if I can transfer that to the pitch.  (See?  I do get some soccer terms right.)  Either way, I still love watching the fast action.

But I’ve stifled my enthusiasm to holler “Shoot it!” when my team gets close to the goal.  Does this mean I have to stop and count the players between the shooter and the goal?  Yes.

Now I’m going to look up the difference between a penalty kick and a penalty shoot-out…

How about the scoring in tennis?  15, 30, 40?  Crazy.  Supposedly, score was originally kept on a clock, using the hand moving a quarter of the way around each time.  Yeah?  Then 45 got shortened to 40 ‘cause 45 took too long to say.  Wait.  What?  And Love?  What’s that all about?  Love represents zero, because, according to one source, the O is like an egg, and O kinda sounds like the French word for egg, oeuf…  Right.  I’d tell you more, but it’s all too confusing!

The baseball season is starting soon, and I’ll be right back at ground zero.  I have to bite my tongue when a batter gets a hit and starts ambling towards first base, rather than taking off like a streak.  One year–and not that long ago either, as you can guess–I shouted out, “Run!  For Pete’s sake, run!”

“He can’t,” my husband informed me.

Wait.  What?

“He has to wait until the outfield catches the ball.  If it bounces, then he can run.  Which he won’t, because he’d be too close and they’d tag him out.”

Okay.  That one was easy to remember.  But I know there’s a rule out there I’m a bit fuzzy on.  Only a bit.  Well, all right, more than a bit.  The ground rule double.

All runners can advance only two bases (okay, there’s the double) if the ball goes out of play, like hitting a wall or getting lodged in the ivy at Wrigley, or…, even if the player could have scored if the ball hadn’t gone out of play.  Um…

Wait. What?