The Prostitution of Artistic Talent, or My Adventures as a Writer for Hire
I’ve been experimenting with different ways to make money by writing. It’s been a bit of an interesting adventure on its own. I teach English online to kids in China, and some of the parents like the fact that I write, and there is a good business opportunity there, but that’s not exactly writing. There’s also a good business opportunity in making websites for authors, but that’s also indirectly related. There are four opportunities that are directly related to making money with my writing and one has been a bit different than I expected.
Amazon is an obvious way to make money by publishing works. I haven’t done that yet. I did get a public domain book turned into an ebook and put it on Amazon. The formatting didn’t really come off right, and I found one major typo around a year after I put it up. I think I’ve made several dollars in the last few years off of that endeavor. I will include the link to the book. It’s a good book, but I recommend the hard copy. https://www.amazon.com/Knack-Selling-Yourself-James-Mangan-ebook/dp/B00NVS9KFO/ref=sr_1_3_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1505350072&sr=8-3&keywords=the+knack+of+selling+yourself
Steemit is an interesting way to make money writing. I’ve made a few hundred dollars on there writing whatever I want. The key is to become a viral sensation, that seems to be the key to everything for the last few years, and I don’t know how to do that, but it has been interesting to see how it works. The key is to get a lot of likes, but not just any likes; you have to get a lot of likes from people that have a lot of Steem Power. Then you turn that into Bitcoin and then you can turn that into USD, it seems a bit confusing, but it’s not too bad. Here is my page: https://steemit.com/@jeffreymartin
Patreon is a very unique system where people can pay you monthly to support your artistic endeavors. I set one up but I haven’t pushed it, it seems to be something that you really need to drive traffic to for it to work. I need to develop this page, come up with an incentive system, and then advertise it. Here is my page: https://www.patreon.com/jeffreyalexandermartin
There are other ways to make money writing of course. You can get published, write for magazines, or do ghostwriting. I’ve looked at all of those things a little bit, but not seriously. I applied for a bunch of gigs on Upwork, but that’s another system that I didn’t game properly. This can serve as an example of what not to do: https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~01180819abc5b63aef/
I do seem to be getting some traction on Fiverr recently, and that’s where the odd assignments have come from. You can see on this gig that I now have five 5-star reviews: https://www.fiverr.com/jam2289/write-a-500-word-article-or-for-you
I want to show you what the assignments have been like. I am going to include the articles below without the instructions from the clients, but just look at this list of subjects first.
A client wanted an article about how to stop cats from spraying.
An article that the client wanted to purposefully be “cheesy” as an advertisement for a Crossfit gym.
An article about disasters to avoid when having your kitchen remodeled.
An advertisement about wooden Japanese watches.
An article about how to do well on the high school exams in Australia.
An article about how moms can help their sons with football.
And, an article about understanding American football.
I went over 500 words on several of them, sometimes by a ways. Some things would need an entire series to really do it justice, such as the rules and strategies you need to know to understand American football. The clients have all really liked what I’ve done with the subjects. The formatting might come out weird when they are copied from their original formatting, but I’m not going to go through them all again, so . . . here they are:
You walk in the door and you know there is a problem right away. What is that smell . . . cat pee?! It’s so strong you want to walk right back out again, you wish you could, but someone has to deal with the problem. Someone has to find it and clean it up, and that someone is you. But, isn’t it just going to happen again, and again, and again? Why? Why is this happening to me? That is a good question. The next question is, “How do I stop this?” We are going to go over both of these important questions.
First, let’s answer the why. There are really two completely separate problems that you could be having. Your cat could either be urinating because it has to, or it could be spraying because it wants to.
In the first scenario the fix if pretty simple. If your cat doesn’t have somewhere to go, it will go somewhere. Or, if the litter box is not in good working order, it will go somewhere else. Since you are the type of person that looks up information to help improve you and your cat’s life, I doubt either of these is your problem.
The second reason is probably your problem. Cats spray to communicate something. What are they trying to communicate? Usually one of two things: either they are claiming something as in a territory, or it is part of their mating behavior. What we need to do is change the context so that they no longer feel the need to spray.
The most common solution to the mating behavior problem is to get them neutered. It can also be helpful if they don’t have any other contact with cats, that way the behavior may never be triggered. It is a little different when cats spray to claim territory though.
Why does your cat need to claim territory? For some reason your cat feels that it needs to mark its space, to say “This is mine.” If we can eliminate that, then we have our solution.
Anything that reduces stress can help your cat feel more comfortable in his, and your, space. One thing that helps is keeping things consistent. Everything be done is the same way at the same time can have a calming effect as the feeling of routine sets in.
Does your cat have enough space? We are just talking about wide open space here. Cats like to have little places, places to hide, places to be by themselves. They like to climb on top of things and to crawl under things. They like to have space where no one and nothing else can get to, where they can’t be disturbed.
If your cat is sensing other cats near the house outside then they may feel that they need to mark their territory. Limiting this contact can help. Something similar could be happening within the home. If there has been a new person or animal introduced your cat may feel that it needs to communicate where its territory is. Help these two (or three, or four) get along and you will be on your way to an enduring peace.
Lastly, we get back to that original problem. Odors around the house, especially animal odors (like cat urine), can make a cat want to spray to communicate its ownership of some space. A fifty-fifty mix of water and vinegar can help to neutralize that smell.
You and your cat can live in peace and harmony, including a decent smell, when you understand what your cat is trying to communicate and take the necessary steps to help both them and you.
Don’t just get fit, get CrossFit!
Putting the fit in fitness!
- Does running on a treadmill for hours bore you?
- Has your fitness program let you down?
- Are you tired of not seeing results?
Have you ever gone to the gym alone, waited for a machine to open, ran or pedaled or stepped or lifted until you were bored? Then you had to wait for another machine to open. Did you feel like you were wasting time? You weren’t even sure if this was going to work. The next week you thought that maybe your time would be better spent doing something productive. Then, did it feel like you were wasting money? Well, you’re not alone.
It’s time to make a change and supercharge your body!
What is the best version of you? That is why CrossFit exists, that is what we are here to find out.
Who shouldn’t join CrossFit?
- People who don’t want a challenge.
- People that have settled.
- People that are okay with the same old lackluster results.
You’re better than that! It’s time to jumpstart your life.
What makes CrossFit different?
CrossFit is about Functional Movement. It is about what you can get done. We want you to be able to run, jump, pick up, throw, catch, lift, and climb. CrossFit is about doing the work; moving things.
CrossFit is Constantly Varied. If you always do the same thing your body will just get used to it. We keep changing so you can keep progressing.
CrossFit is High Intensity. We get more done in less time. You get a better workout without spending excessive amounts of time in the gym.
CrossFit is Scalable. Our goal is to help you become the best version of you. That means we adjust and adapt the workout for you, so that you can take yourself to the next level.
CrossFit uses our own Certified Coaches. Our training and certification programs are world class so that you know you are getting the best.
But wait! That’s not all, there’s more!
CrossFit is more than just a gym, more than just fitness trainers, and more than just equipment. CrossFit is a Community, a community built on support and Accountability. Together we are stronger, together we are better.
CrossFit is a methodology. You don’t have to guess whether you will get results. You can know! The fittest people on earth go to our gyms, do our workouts, compete in our events, and are a part of our community.
CrossFit is a movement. More and more people are realizing the benefits of CrossFit everyday and joining gyms all over the country and the world.
There are two types of people: those that grab opportunities and those that hesitate. It’s time to take the leap, to overcome your limits and become the best version of you.
It’s time to kickstart your health.
How can I get started?
New CrossFit gyms are opening everyday, and there is already one near you. Call or stop into your nearest CrossFit gym today. Join the community. Become a part of something greater than yourself, join in the movement, and become the best version of yourself.
CrossFit will revolutionize your health, transform your body, and re-energize your life.
What are you waiting for? Join today!
I just put the picture there as an example, you can use your own.
Kitchen Nightmares — How to avoid them.
How am I going to fix this? It’s a disaster! There’s no bigger nightmare than kitchen construction gone wrong. Whether you are remodeling, or building new, you need to know how to make sure it’s done right the first time.
Imagine that you’ve had some work done on your kitchen while you spent a long weekend away with your family. When you get back everyone is excited to look at the new kitchen, but . . . something’s wrong. These aren’t the handles that you picked out for the cupboards. Not a huge problem, but it needs to be fixed, so you call up the remodeling company and ask them to come out. The problem is that you’ve paid them up front, and now they don’t really want to come back out to fix their mistake and do the rework. It’s an easy mistake to make, and it’s an easy mistake to avoid, and it’s not the only one (we will come back to that problem).
First, lets talk about checking the credibility of the company. A little research here can save you a large amount of time, and possibly money, later. The key is to see previous work. Examples, reviews, and recommendations are what we are looking for. We’re not only looking for the good either, if there is a bad review we want to know about it. The company should have examples of their previous work ready for you. If you’re just doing a partial remodeling then it’s ideal to get a company that both manufacturers and installs the material, say the countertops. If it’s new construction then your contractor should have sub-contractors that he knows and trusts.
Second, let’s talk about quality. This is a choice only you can make, but if you plan to use or own the house for an extended period then it can be cost effective to go with the higher quality material that is going to last. There are three main items that the kitchen is based around (other than the floor): the cabinets, the appliances, and the countertops.
There are two things you want to look for in quality cabinets. The first is that they are of a solid thickness and have a solid back. Solid is what we want; a thickness of 18 to 19mm will work well for you. The second thing to look for are metal sliders in the drawers that have a solid stop in the back. You don’t want your drawers to warp over time.
Appliances can be your best friend, or your worst nightmare. Luckily for you other people, a lot of other people, have appliances too. This means that they have been doing the research for you and all you have to do is look up their reviews. Find the one you like, the one that suits your needs, but before you make it official take a look and make sure that it has worked out for other people the way you hope it’s going to work for you.
There is a wide array of countertop options, but the main division is between stone and quartz. Quartz countertops are very resilient and stain resistant. The one downside is that they don’t do well in UV light over long periods of time. Stone countertops, especially granite, are also resilient and do well in UV light (marble is beautiful, but it is a little more brittle). The only downside is that they can be stained. The key to overcoming that is a high quality protection treatment. Your choice in countertops must be balanced between what you like, and what environment you are putting that countertop in.
Finally, let’s talk about getting that rework completed. It’s common practice in construction to pay part of the cost up front, and to pay the rest on completion of the job. This allows you to have the final say as to when the job is done. How much you withhold is between you and your contractor, but anywhere from 20 to 50 percent is within a normal range. With a large portion of their pay on the line, they will come back and take care of those cupboard handles for you in a timely manner.
A new kitchen, an upgraded kitchen, can bring you a lot of joy and happiness, but sometimes the process to get there can be trying. By arming yourself with a little information beforehand you can avoid the nightmare and capture the kitchen of your dreams.
Is There A Good Gift For A Man?
The perfect gift for a man can be hard to find. The more time and effort that you put into it the more you expect, and you know that’s a dangerous thing. You’re investing yourself in the process and you start to wonder: “Will he like it?”, “Will he appreciate it?”, and “Will he use it?”
You, like many others, may have been able to find something, a thing, that will make him look good and that he will use, the perfect gift, a watch.
(you could include a picture of a happy woman here if you want)
But . . .
That only gives you more problems. If it’s hot the watch can be too hot against your skin, if it’s cold outside the watch can be too cold against your skin. Some men don’t like having a heavy watch around their wrist. Does a shiny silver or gold watch really go with everything? Is it too flashy sometimes? What about replacing batteries? That could be a pain. And . . . doesn’t everyone seem to have one of those anyway?
(you could include another picture of a frustrated woman here)
Well, there is a secret that more and more people are discovering. Watches don’t have to be made out of metal to be stylish. They can be better in every way with one simple idea — the Wilds Wood Watch. (you could link this to your site)
(put one of those nice pictures you have of a watch on a wrist here)
There are some things that are easy to notice, and a few that are not. The Wilds Wood Watch is obviously stylish. There are 9 different styles, and every one looks great and works great. Japan is known for making some of the best watches in the world because of the attention that is emphasized on quality, and you don’t have to replace any batteries ever because these are automatic watches. The natural movement of wearing the watch continues to wind the watch.
(another picture of a modeled watch)
But . . .
How is that any different from any other top quality watch? Really, how?
The first thing is that it’s made from wood. What advantage does that offer?
- It’s not uncomfortable on your wrist. It’s not heavy, and it doesn’t rub and scratch against your skin.
- Wood naturally adjusts its temperature so that it stays aligned with your body temperature. Metal gets too hot, and too cold, wood does not.
- Many people end up with allergic reactions to metal watches that irritate their skin. Premium wood does not do that.
Okay, wood watches are great, but can’t I just go get a wood watch somewhere?
Because wood watches offer so many advantages they are becoming more and more popular, and will continue to do so, but there is more to it than that.
Let me take you behind the scenes a little bit.
Metal and plastic watches are manufactured using molds, but a premium wood watch shouldn’t be like any other watch. It should be your watch. Watches from Wilds Wood are hand-crafted from 100% natural wood, and let me tell you where that wood comes from: high quality furniture makers. Top quality furniture makers craft their furniture by hand from top quality wood. Your watch deserves that same level of quality. Every craftsman at Wilds Wood is trained in the skills needed to meet this level of quality for 3 years.
(include a picture here of someone working on a watch if you can)
All of this work and attention to detail goes into these watches, but the true test is what the customers have to say. Here are just a few:
(include 3 customer testimonials here)
There are two types of people in life: those that know what they want and grab opportunity when it presents itself, and everyone else. You were brought here for a reason. Take this opportunity. Your watch is waiting for you at WildsWood.com. (obviously make that into a link)
I am going to do it as all text, but pictures can almost always help. I will let you add the styling that you want for the text, but I will set up the headers.
10 Must-dos for the HSC English Advanced Exams
Do you have a plan for your HSC Exams? Because everyone else does, and they are competing against you.
Are you nervous about your exams? You should be, because they can impact your life.
Let’s make a plan!
Have you ever seen a baby learning to walk? Did they stand up, walk to the kitchen, and make themselves a ham sandwich the first time they tried to stand up? No! They did not. The first time that you sit down to write this essay within a time limit you will . . . fail. Now, you’ve written essays before, they were practice. So, maybe, you’re already going to do just fine, but maybe you’re not. There is one way that can guarantee that you will do better, practice.
I’m not kidding. Babies have to practice walking before they can walk, and the most skilled people on the planet spend more time practicing than they do performing. Professional athletes practice, and practice, and practice. That isn’t a fluke. The best practices for an athlete are special drills and simulations of game-time environments. The best practices for you are special drills and simulations of test-time environments. Do it in a similar chair and room to what you will be tested in if you can. Do it with the same time constraint. Do it with someone watching you. If you want to be the best you have to do what the best do, and that’s practice.
Yes, this is real, and it’s very important. There are studies that say things like your scores will fall an average of 30 percent if you don’t have adequate sleep the night before. That’s fine. All you need to know is that if you don’t sleep enough the night before you will do poorly. No sleep = bad score. The solution is pretty simple, sleep. Maybe you have trouble sleeping the night before a big test. Well, find something that works for you. Work out hard that day and you might sleep well. Read before bed and you might sleep well. Go to be two hours early and that might work. Find what works for you, just make sure you get enough sleep.
- Have a strategy.
What are the odds that a sports team or an army are going to win if they start without a plan and a strategy? Probably right around zero. You also must have a strategy. Know what you’re going to do first, know what you’re going to do second, know what you’re going to do last. Go in with a strategy. Practice your strategy. Adapt your strategy if you need to, but have a strategy.
- Know the rules.
Do you think that someone who doesn’t know the rules in chess could beat someone that does know the rules? No, that will not happen. You cannot win if you don’t know the rules. Look up the rules and know what to expect. And, that leads us to the next thing.
Do your research. It isn’t hard. Go to the website and look up everything that you need to know. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/hsc_exams/
How does the grading work? They tell you. What are the times? They tell you. How much is this section worth? They tell you. Use that to your advantage and know what to expect.
- Look up definitions.
When you’re doing your research you’re going to encounter things that you don’t understand, or you don’t fully understand, or things that you think you understand but actually don’t understand, or all three. When you’re looking through last years exam papers, because you’re doing your research in preparation for your practice, you may encounter something like this.
“An exploration of intertextual connections reveals the relationship between context and key values.”
Here is the link to the exam paper: http://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/wcm/connect/da55b41d-d2cb-4ea5-b257-543f483122c3/2016-hsc-english-adv-p2.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-da55b41d-d2cb-4ea5-b257-543f483122c3-lHPDFVU
Now, if you fully understand the meaning of every word within this specific context, great, but if you don’t you need to look them up. This will payoff in dividends.
- When you’re stuck, adapt.
You’ve written essays before, you’ve even done exams before, but you still might get stuck, and you should be mentally prepared for that. What do you do? What can you do? You adapt. What I mean is that you adapt something you’ve said before. Take some other point that you’ve made in some other essay at some other time and adapt it to this situation. Press on, keep going. If you’ve practiced enough then this probably won’t happen to you, but if you haven’t . . . well, adapt.
- Don’t cram — do warm-up.
Cramming works, sometimes, kind of. Preparation works better. Athletes don’t just walk onto the field and start playing, they would pull a muscle. Instead, they warm-up. You should too. You have to find what works for you, but the brain and muscles are a little different. It may be best for you to warm-up the day before. Take some of those practice questions and just write a quick essay the day before, just to refresh, just to warm-up.
- Stay calm and carry on.
Panic! That’s the best way to make good things bad and bad things worse. Find a way to stay calm. Meditate, or just breathe, or go to your happy place, or imagine swimming in a pool of delicious butterscotch pudding; whatever works for you. If it’s before the exam, stay calm, if it’s during the exam, stay calm, if it’s after the exam . . . well, that won’t really effect your score, but stay calm anyway.
Sure, the exams are important. It’s natural and normal to be a little nervous about them. Use that, use that energy, your nervous energy to push yourself to better scores. You’re worrying about the exams? Good! Take that time to research, take that time to practice. Make yourself better and you won’t regret it. The exams are an opportunity, and you have the ability to take hold of that opportunity and do something with it. Do it.
Pictures can always help. I’ll offer suggestions on what to put in where. I will put in several, but you could do less if you want. I left the end open for your link.
Football Moms — Five Unusual Ways To Help Your Son Succeed
With the rigors that competitive football puts player through sometimes it’s hard to understand why your son wants to do it so bad. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand how they will make it through. It’s frustrating watching your son suffer and wondering if there’s something else you can do, if there’s something that you’re not doing that you should be doing. You’ve bought the equipment, you make sure he’s at training, but . . . is there something that you’re missing? There are five things that are commonly overlooked or dismissed, but can make a huge difference.
(picture of either an exhausted football player or a mom and her son)
1 — Special Equipment and Braces
Injuries are the worst part of football. Unfortunately they’re common. Luckily there are some things to help.
Have you heard of a stinger? It’s when you hit your shoulder hard enough that your arm goes all tingly. It’s not the fun part of football. There are pads that can go under your shoulder pads to help prevent them. If your son has ever had a stinger he will probably be interested in getting some.
Some mouth guards are better than others. The mouthpiece is a huge part of helping to prevent concussions. It’s worth it to get a nice mouth guard.
Depending on the position that your son plays it may be useful to get forearm pads. If he handles the ball this might not be possible because of the potential for fumbling, but if he doesn’t it may mean fewer bruises. There are also pads that can slide up to the upper arm if he has a tendency to bruise in the bicep/tricep/shoulder region.
Ankle and wrist injuries are common in football. Most ball handlers don’t like anything on their wrists, but it is very useful for everyone else. Some people don’t like ankle braces because it can restrict their ability to cut and turn sharply, but others need them to prevent an injury. Both can be useful tools.
Knee and elbow braces are fairly common to see on football players. They usually wear these after they’ve had an injury, but some decide to wear them before. Ball carriers probably won’t want elbow braces, but knee braces are worth looking into for everyone.
There is a special brace that attaches around the upper arm and connects to the front of the shoulder pads to restrict the shoulder range of motion. This isn’t preferable unless you don’t have another choice to help deal with a shoulder injury, just know that they are available.
Gloves can be worn for different reasons. Some people wear them for warmth, some people wear them for protection, and some people wear them for grip. These will depend on your region and the position that your son plays.
(picture of someone looking at a wall of equipment, or something like that)
2 — Electrolytes
A major problem during practices are cramps. They can hurt, slow him down, lead to injury, and more. Everyone knows to stay hydrated and usually everyone tries to, but there is something else. Your body is also burning electrolytes. Sodium and potassium control a major potion of the function of your cells. They control whether the cell gets any other nutrients. That’s why sports drinks became a thing in the first place, they also have a lot of sugar so they taste good and provide some energy. Gatorade has some sodium and potassium in it. Some long distance runners use Pedialyte instead. There are also iodine pills (which is a form of potassium). However you do it you need to be restoring those electrolytes, and not just because of the cramps. By the time someone is cramping from lack of water or electrolytes their body has already been having issues getting important nutrients into the cells. We will talk about some of those nutrients in a little bit.
(sweaty exhausted looking player, or a player having a drink)
3 — Sleep
Sometimes kids are ridiculed for sleeping too much, sometimes they are ridiculed for sleeping too little. For your son that can never be too much, but there may be too little. Everyones sleep needs are different, but they are a need. Highly active people need more, young people need more, and people that are taking repeated beatings need more. Highly active young people that are taking repeated beatings need a lot of sleep. Whatever you can do to allow for more sleep, do it.
(picture of a player, or just a kid, passed out on books)
4 — Bad Smells
Locker rooms stink. Locker rooms full of football players really stink. It is a common tendency for some players to not wash their uniforms on a regular basis. Sometimes, it’s just too much of an inconvenience, but it’s important. First of all, it’s important for him to not be disgusted everytime he puts his uniform on. Second, it’s important to prevent certain illnesses such as ring worm. To feel better physically and mentally, keep the clothes somewhat clean.
(picture of locker with a uniform inside)
5 — Food
Carb loading is a well known concept, but there are more important things than carbs, because those are really easy to get enough of. Things he may not be getting enough of are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, probiotics, and some special nutrients. This isn’t going to be an organic chemistry lesson, but here are a few things to consider. If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin C it literally falls apart because it can’t make collagen. When you strain or damage your muscles (and bones) you need more collagen to repair them. If you don’t have enough vitamin C then you can’t make collagen. Without enough vitamin C your sons body will literally start to fall apart. It takes one molecule of vitamin C to make one molecule of collagen, and vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) has a short half-life, it doesn’t stick around for long. Ideally, you need it often, more than once a day, more than twice a day. I can give a similar explanation for all of these nutrients, but I’m not going to. I am going to tell you some of the things that you should be thinking about.
The body needs the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. K is often overlooked but is essential in the allocation of calcium in the body, and other things.
The body needs the water soluble vitamins B and C. There are a bunch of B vitamins, don’t miss them or the body will stop functioning.
The body needs hundreds of minerals. There are some mineral supplements that cover some, cartilage is also a great source of minerals, and there are some salts from the Great Salt Lake or the Himalayas that contain a lot of trace minerals.
The body needs a bunch of amino acids. It’s common to say there are 9 essential amino acids, but if you’re only getting 9 you are going to have some problems.
The body needs several kinds of fatty acids. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids help to keep the membranes of your cells flexible to allow nutrients in and to push toxins out, especially by combining with some of the amino acids to make phospholipids.
The body needs enzymes. Not just to break down food, they do many things in the body.
The body needs the proper bacteria in the gut to help digest and assimilate nutrients from food.
There are also special nutrients contained in foods like liver and colostrum that can help to increase stamina and the immune system.
Some of these things you can get from food, but there is a reason that almost all major athletes take a large amount of supplements everyday.
(picture of player eating)
What do I do?
Do what you can, when you can, where you can. If your son is having a specific problem, focus on that first. If he isn’t, think about what could be a problem and seek to prevent it. Work through the list, and work through your options. Choose something where you can make a difference and do it. Everything makes a difference. And, of course, keep getting the information (and t-shirts) you need at
What’s Happening on the Football Field
Football is the most popular sport in the United States, but . . . it can be kind of confusing. Many people that sit in the stands to watch a son or grandson or nephew don’t really understand the game. Which is fine, until you want to talk with your son or grandson or nephew, because they are going to want to talk about the game. They would probably love to talk about other teams, and strategies, and college games, and professional games with you too. But, they can’t do that if you don’t know what they’re talking about. That kind of situation can be frustrating, when two people want to communicate, but they just can’t because they don’t have a shared vocabulary and understanding. You have two choices; you can either give up and hope to develop the relationship in another way, or you can ask yourself this question, “What am I going to do to learn this game so that I can have those conversations?”
You are going to do two things.
1. You are going to get a basic understanding of the means and ends of the game in the next few minutes.
2. You are then going to be able to ask questions, listen, and learn about the more involved and detailed aspects of the game.
There are two teams with a wide variety of players. Eleven players from each team are on the field at a time. Let’s track a game chronologically and see how it goes. There is probably a person in your life that wouldn’t mind explaining it to you as well. Watch a game with them and ask questions, in person or on television. Don’t expect to understand everything, people spend decades studying, training, and strategizing about football, you don’t have to get it all right away.
I am going to give you an example of some of the details. These are why it’s so easy to get confused. Don’t worry about them all, you will slowly pick them up over time. Just like all things, one of the most important aspects is to learn the terminology, the jargon; that might be half the battle. I will give an example of some of the possible details at the beginning of the game. Then we will move through an overview of the rest of the game rather quickly.
There is a coin flip to determine who will kick off, and who will receive, and which side they both start on. The winner of the coin flip makes those choices. These are called the kicking team and the receiving team. On the kickoff team there is a kicker and ten other players lined up across the field. When he kicks the ball they sprint down the field in an attempt to stop the receiving team as close as they can to the other end of the field. Just as in almost all of football there are a lot of rules to go with this. If the ball is kicked out of bounds the receiving team gets to start at that point on the field. The guy catching the ball on the receiving team can wave his hand in the air to call a fair catch, this means that no one can hit him and the receiving team will start at that point. If he touches the ball but fails to catch it then either team can grab the ball. If he catches it in the endzone, which is the scoring part at the end near the goalpost, then he can run with it or just kneel. If he kneels then it is brought out to a point on the field to begin playing, this spot fluctuates between the different levels, but the pros move it out to the twenty yard line. If the kicker kicks it through the endzone it’s the same thing. If a fair catch is called, it’s caught, and then the kicking team touches him it’s a penalty for the kicking team. There is also a little used strategy of an onside kick where the kicking team tries to get the ball instead of giving it to the other team. The ball has to travel ten yards forward before the kicking team can grab it, or someone from the receiving team has to touch it. This hasn’t even gotten into strategy yet. Ahhhh! It’s a lot, I know.
My point is that it’s a complicated game, all aspects of it. Playing football is a highly intellectual activity (even though it isn’t always perceived to be) just like being on the debate team or the chess team. The rulebook for football is actually longer than the rulebook for chess, but shorter than the rulebook for debate.
For now, what we need is a basic understanding of the flow of the game. One team kicks off and the other team gets the ball. The team that has the ball is the offense and the team that doesn’t have the ball is the defense. The offense is trying to get the ball into the endzone, which would result in them receiving six points, after which they would be able to kick an extra point for one more point; or, instead of making a touchdown they can try to kick the ball through the goalpost for three points. The defense is trying to stop the offense from doing that.
The offense can run or throw the ball. They have four tries, called downs to move the ball ten yards. If they don’t accomplish that the other team gets the ball. If the offense moves the ball ten yards within those four downs then they get another four downs to move the ball ten yards again. If they fail to move the ball ten yards on the first three downs then they usually kick the ball, called punting, so that the other team is farther away from scoring. If a team scores the kick the ball to the other team. This back and forth is the game. Everything else is a detail, those things that you will pick up eventually.
Football is divided into 4 quarters and 2 halves. The teams switch which end of the field they can score on at the end of each quarter. The team the kicked off to start the game will receive the ball after halftime. At the end of the game the team with the most points wins.
I hope I have demonstrated that it is perfectly reasonable to spend a large amount of accumulative time learning the rules, science, and art of football (it’s much more detailed if you’re actually playing the game). With a basic understanding you can ask questions and start to build your vocabulary. When you hear a word that you don’t know ask about it, or Google it. Jargon can be the key to understanding. It’s up to you to decide how much time you want to invest. If it helps you develop a stronger relationship with your son or grandson or nephew, maybe it’s worth. You might even find that you enjoy the game more.
I never thought I would do projects like those, but it has definitely shown me that I can write about a variety of subjects. I do plan to focus on more fiction though, the good stuff, you can join me at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com