Mysteries of the pointed ball: American Football 101

For most of the world, football is played with a spherical ball, and the operative word is “foot.” Except for goalies, the big idea is for players to advance this spherical ball using anything but their hands.

And then there’s American football. (Story continues after video.)

UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally

If you were an international student at UC Berkeley, you might well have some questions. In fact, hundreds of such students found some answers  — and a new appreciation for the nuances of a game played with a so-called pigskin shaped like a prolate spheroid — at “American Football 101,” an instructional, often hilarious hourlong training camp held Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The student orientation event, hosted by the Berkeley International Office and Cal Athletics, offered instruction and, yes, hands-on practice in football drills led by members of the Cal Bears football team. Besides tackling previously puzzling topics like how (and why) to pass and receive a pointy ball, the new students were treated to pizza, a Cal T-shirt and a ticket to Saturday’s home opener against Grambling State.

It was the very definition of experiential learning, and Berkeley News was there to catch it on video. For the students — as well as the Golden Bears, who won some fans — “American Football 101” was nothing short of a touchdown.