Arena football is an advanced version of the well-known American football. There is an interesting story behind the birth of Arena football.
It is said that, its founder and the former Executive of the United States Football League, James F. Foster, jotted down the basic structure of this game on the backside of a manila envelop, while watching a live indoor soccer game, in the year 1981.
He worked on field designs, rules and regulations, and equipment for the next five years. Afterwards, he organized a small league in Chicago, to test the response of the sports market as well as the people. From the year 1986, the game took its present form and it is getting popular day by day.
Rules of Arena Football
The first official game was played between 'Miami Vise' and 'Chicago Politicians', on 27th February 1987. The rules of Arena football have been progressively devised and changed since then.
The width of the field is 85 feet and length, 200 feet. The distance between the end line and the goal line (end zone) is 8 yards. The shape of the end zones differ depending on the venue of the match.
They are sometimes rectangular like a basketball court or curved-like a hockey rink. The sideline barriers are heavily padded with padding laid over the hockey dasher boards. The crossbar is 15 feet above the playing surface and the goalpost verticals are 9 feet.
Stretched rebound nets on either sides of the goalposts, helps finding any missed field goals. The ball is only assumed live when it is bounced off these nets. The whole goal side and the goal frame is cable suspended with the help of rafters.
Players and Formations
There are 24 players roster for each team, twenty players are active and four players remain inactive. Eight players can play at a single time.
In the year 2007, the rules were modified, but before that, the players used to play both defense and offense (except for the quarterback, an offensive specialist, two defensive specialists, and a kicker).
At the start of the snap, three defensive players must be in a three or four point stance. Amongst them, two defenders serve as linebackers, one of them usually starts blitzing from the side of the opposite line, of the Tight End of the opposition.
The other linebacker moves from one sideline to the other within five yards near the line of scrimmage and drops the ball at the time of quarterback pump fakes.
Each half time lasts for fifteen minutes, four quarters, with 35 seconds play clock, which starts at the end of every previous play. The clock stops at the out of bound plays, sacks or incomplete passes, injury time, penalties or timeouts; that too only at the last minute of each half time.
There is only one minute warning. The clock stops also for any change in possession, until the ready mark. If the touchdown scoring time and quarter end time is exactly the same, then one ultimate conversion is attempted.
During the final minute of the final quarter, the clock stops if the offensive team fails to lead and advances the ball past the line of scrimmage. Each overtime period is of fifteen minutes, where each team gets one scoring possession, after which, whichever team is leading in points, obviously wins.
In case of a tie, a 'sudden death' or tiebreaker round of ten minutes is played to decide the winner.
Pretty usual, the ball is kicked off the goal line. The team having the ball is given four downs to cover ten yards. Punting (hitting the ball, without it touching the ground) is not allowed, as the field is too small to for it.
Receiver who jumps to catch the pass, has to get one foot down on the ground, same as the College football. Balls that are bounced off the padded sidelines and passes the rebound nets are called live.
After 2006, the end lines were started to be counted as live. The defending team has to return the attempted field goals, that bounce off the rebound nets.
Scoring is done by the same method as that of the National Football League, only with an added 'drop kick'. Drop kick is worth four points during normal play and two points during post-touchdown conversion. Extra points and turnovers are blocked at attempted two point conversion.
Arena Football League
The Arena Football league was formed in the year 1987, named Arena Football Indoor League. At first, there were four inaugural teams namely, Chicago Bruisers, Washington Commandos, Denver Dynamite and Pittsburgh Gladiators. The matches were held at famous 'Arena Bowl I', for six seasons.
In the year 1990 Mr. Foster was awarded the patent for Arena football and Arena football league. There were many ups and downs in the team formations as well as in the number of participating teams.
The new millennium brought many hopes, as well as fame to the game. The current league size is fifteen teams, with the teams divided into four different zones namely, central, eastern, western and southern.
The AFL had the largest number of teams, i.e., nineteen in the year 2006. But in the year 2009, the league had plans to cancel the season, in order to improve its economical condition. 'Orlando Predators', 'Dallas Desperados', 'Colorado Crush' etc., are some famous teams.
Arena football rules are very easy to understand, especially if you are a fan of American football. Besides the given mentioned rules, all the other rules are just like the rules of American football.
Getting acquainted with the rules, watching more and more matches and actually practicing the game on the field will certainly make you master of the game!