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A Video-Game Football Education

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I received my purchase of Chris Brown's (@SmartFootball) "The Essential Smart Football" two days ago. (Click that link and buy. It's on sale for under $7. Do it now!) This is a book steeped in football schemes and terminology as Chris unfolds the details of how football works. How does a person like me, who has never played a single down of organized, pads-and-helmet football in his life, come to enjoy such a book?

I got my start in video games.

More specifically, it started with EA's college football video game series. I was always too small and skinny to play football, as was my friend Zach (@zbloxham), and I never had much interest in playing. But I came to love the game anyway. I entered the scene in 1996 when it was known as "EA College Football USA 96." Zach and I would stay up through all hours of the night blocking punts and racking up points on the Sega Genesis. Seriously, this game was awesome. I believe it is credited as being the first college football video game to have every single Division I-A school included. And the music is sweet.

I had no idea what terms like "4-4" or "zone blitz" meant. But I would learn. Soon I came to know names of defensive schemes, offensive formations, and how receiver routes work to exploit the defense. I learned the ins and outs of the option, a video-game favorite. Because I played this video game, I understood when TV commentators explained the success a team was having with the I-formation or how its man blitz was devastating the other team. I was later able to understand what was going on when Bronco Mendenhall brought Rocky Long's 3-3-5 to BYU.

Zach and I became knowledgeable enough about the game that several years later, we helped his step-brother, interested in playing but lacking even a drop of football knowledge, learn the same details of the game of football on the Playstation 2. We could call plays and illustrate to him the position names, then the defensive formations, then offensive plays and schemes, and so on. He went on to enjoy playing the game in high school as a running back and kicker. (Once, his team gained a late lead against the school where J.D. Falslev -- current BYU receiver -- played. He voiced concerns about kicking to Falslev, but was told by coaches to kick normally. Falslev housed the kick for the winning score.)

There likely would have been no other way (at least any way in which I would be interested) for me to learn and love a sport I never played. And then I wouldn't be here to act like a know it all on my fancy little blog. I guess you can decide for yourself if this was a good thing.

|| This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.

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