Sports Illiteracy: Are You A Victim?
5 mins read

Sports Illiteracy: Are You A Victim?

Have you ever been watching the big game with your man and gotten the big eye roll when you mix up sports terms?! If so, you’re not alone! Thousands of people suffer from sports illiteracy – the inability to discuss sporting events using the proper terminology.

Here are a few examples:

a. You ask, “Are we still in the first act?” (This is not an appropriate question unless you are at a theatre watching a play. It should never be used to determine what part of the game you are watching.)

b. You ask, “Who are you voting for in this game?” instead of “Who are you rooting for?” (Voting is for politics and reality tv shows.)

c. You say, “What part does he play?” instead of “What position does he play?” (These are not actors. They are athletes.)

According to Men’s Health Magazine, 40 percent of men want their wife or girlfriend to watch sports with them. It’s a way to spend time together and it can even be relaxing. But if you don’t understand what’s going on – it will more likely be a  frustrating experience. And trust me, it won’t be fun for the sports fan in your life either if you spend the whole game asking questions.

I mean how many times does your husband or boyfriend interrupt you while you’re watching your shows, asking questions like, “What happens to Meredith and Derrick’s baby on Grey’s Anatomy?” You just want to scream, “Watch the show every week if you want to know!”

Maybe if you learn his sports lingo, he will start learning yours! In the meantime, here is some basic sports terminology to get you started:

Field Goals vs. Extra Points

I hear people getting this one confused all the time. In football, when the kicker is kicking through that big yellow gold post after the team  just scored a touch down, that is an “Extra Point” worth only 1 point.

On the other hand, when a team is unable to score a touch down but is within kicking range of the goal post, the team will try for a “Field Goal,” which is worth 3 points.

Basketball Field?!

  • Football, soccer, and baseball are played on a field.
  • Basketball and tennis are played on a court.
  • Hockey is played on the ice in a rink.


When talking about the scoring, each sport has a different saying:

  • Baseball – you score a run.
  • Football – you score a touchdown, an extra point, a field goal or a safety.
  • Basketball – you score points or you make a basket.
  • Soccer and Hockey – you score a goal.
  • Tennis uses the phrase “love” for zero. For example, if the match is scored 10-0, it is read as “Ten to love.”

Whenever you are tell someone the score, the highest number is ALWAYS told first. For example, you would say that the Bears won 24-7 – not 7-24!

Wondering how to tell who is the “Away Team” and who is the “Home Team”? When you are watching the game on TV, the team listed last is the team playing at home.

For example:

Rams: 14
Giants: 10

The Giants are the home team.

You can also tell who the home team is by how it is written. If you see it written in a newspaper like this, “Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins”, then the Redskins are the Home team because they are listed second.

Offensive vs. Defensive

In every sport you watch, there will be an offense and defense. To make this easy to remember, when you see the quarterback on the field or a batter up at bat that means that team’s offense is at work. Those are the guys whose main job is to score for their team.

The defense are the players who are trying to stop the offense from getting down the court (in basketball) or down the field (in football). Yes, sometimes they can score, and we call that an interception in football or a steal in basketball, which means the defense of team got the ball from the offense and scored!

Bloopers and Mix-ups We can Sometimes make!

  • It is a face-off to start a hockey game, not a puck-off!
  • It is a tennis match, not a tennis game.
  • Touchdown, NOT Catchdown!

It may seem like a lot to learn, but it’s kind of like learning a new language. The more you surround yourself with people that are speaking in that language, the more you will pick it up!

If you have any questions, or something that confuses you, comment below and I will do my best to help you. Or please share your funny mix-ups; we’ve all had them and can learn from them!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments