Training camps in the NFL open in about six weeks. It’s been a long time since the Super Bowl, and I still have a hard time getting excited about the “exhibition season” in August. So September is still a long time from now.
In certain cities in the U.S., there is Arena Football. The Orlando Predators are celebrating their twenty-fifth year this season, and they provide us with a little help for our football addiction. If you have never heard of it, it’s pretty cool.
The games are played in a big arena – Orlando uses the Amway Center where the Orlando Magic play basketball and the Orlando Solar Bears play hockey. The football games bring in six or seven thousand for each game, and because it is indoors, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Tickets are pretty inexpensive, too, because players aren’t making multi-millions on their contracts.
The arena game is similar to the NFL in a lot of ways. The ball is the same, and the basic rules are the same – four downs to get ten yards, etc. But the field is fifty yards instead of one hundred, and the goal posts are narrow. Outside of the goal posts is netting to bounce the ball back into the field of play on kicks – a live ball. Kickoffs go from goal line to goal line, sometimes hitting the net and bouncing back into the field of play. There are no punts – you either go for it on 4th down or attempt a field goal. And the sidelines are a padded wall.
Because of the size of the field, there are eight players on each side. The offense and defense are restricted, which has the effect of allowing high scoring games – sometimes north of fifty points on each side. The last Predators game we attended saw it come down to a field goal in the last five seconds – the Preds won, 59-56.
Even without knowing all the technicalities of the game and the differences from the NFL, arena football games are an entertaining night out. In Orlando, Groupon also offers great deals on games, usually in the days prior to a game. We make a date of it, going to dinner, then to the game. And our Predators are having a great year!
Take a look at your local area to see if you have a team near you, and take in a game. It’s a great fix for the NFL off-season – the Arena League plays from March to July
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