Huskie How-to: A beginner’s guide to being a sports fan

By in Sports & Health

Students at the University of Saskatchewan know that this campus has a ton of Huskie pride. If you’re the type of person who starts sweating when the conversation turns into “Hey, did you catch the game last night?” don’t worry — it’s easy to pick up the basics.

While there are many Huskies teams, the big three are football, basketball and hockey, so that’s a good place to start. Follow this easy guide to the main ideas of each sport and what’s enjoyable about being a fan, and you’ll be decked out in green and white face paint in no time.

Football

Game setup: 12 players per side, and at any given moment one team is playing offence, which means they are in possession of the football. Their quarterback is on the field and they are attempting to score, while the other team is on defence. There are four 15-minute quarters of active playing time.

Basic idea: the quarterback of the team on offence throws or runs the ball, while the defence attempts to tackle, block or intercept the forward motion. The offence has three attempts, or “downs,” to gain 10 yards, otherwise the ball is kicked back to the other team and the offence and defence switch.

When the ball is carried into or caught in the end zone, a six-point “touchdown” is awarded to the offence, followed by a potential further point if their kicker can then kick the football between the upright goal posts to score a conversion. Field goals are kicking attempts during a third down and are worth three points.

Reasons to cheer: Huskies interception of the opposing quarterback’s throw, successful Huskies field goals or the Huskies defence shutting down the opposing offence.

Reasons to boo: sacks by the other team — meaning they tackle the Huskies quarterback before he throws the ball.

Why you care: Huskies home games are a big deal — they shoot off fireworks to celebrate every scoring play. Plus, the league that the Huskies play in is small enough that any team has a shot at an exciting playoff run.

Basketball

Game setup: five players per side, each guarding their team’s basket. There are four 10-minute quarters of active playing time.

Basic idea: move the ball down the court by dribbling or passing it between team members in order to accumulate “baskets” — sinking the ball into the other team’s hoop. Two points for a regular basket, three for a basket shot from behind the three-point line, which is an arc painted on the court marking approximately 20 feet from the net.

Reasons to cheer: successful Huskie free throws, three-point baskets or successful blocks of the opponent’s basket attempts.

Reasons to boo: personal fouls against the Huskies, which often involve pushing or shoving another player instead of using their body to block or defend.

Why you care: the Huskies women’s basketball team was a dominant force throughout the 2015–16 season, claiming the first ever national championship in the history of the program. Coming off a high like that, the team will be full of energy and determined to keep up the momentum — plus their rivals will be out for blood. Everyone loves a good dramatic conflict.

Hockey

Game setup: six players per side, one of which is a goaltender, on opposing ends of the rink. There are three 20-minute periods of regulation time.

Basic idea: put the puck in the net as many times as possible without breaking any rules — players are penalized for infractions by sitting in the penalty box for a few minutes while their team plays one person short.

Reasons to cheer: any Huskies goal! Hockey games rarely have final scores above single digits, so each one is exciting and important.

Reasons to boo: offside calls or cheap shots from the other team that the referee misses — like a slash from a stick when there’s no puck nearby.

Why you care: the Huskies men’s hockey team was on fire this season, skating their way to the Canada West banner. There’s also nothing more Canadian than heading to the rink with a fresh cup of Tim Horton’s coffee to cheer on the local boys.