Sandy Caron and Mike Hodgson believe that football is the most complicated sport to understand.
So an idea that they first discussed 25 years ago when they were students at the University of Maine has become a reality: they wrote a book designed to help people, particularly women, learn about football and the football experience and how to maximize the enjoyment of it.
“Tackling Football: A Woman’s Guide to Understanding the College Game” has been recently published with co-authors Caron and Hodgson enlisting the services of Val Ireland to illustrate the book.
Caron drew up an outline for the book 25 years ago and, when she ran into Hodgson at the Maine-New Hampshire football game last fall, Hodgson said he discovered that she had saved the outline. They spent the next year putting it together.
“We had looked at other books and what they tried to do was teach women the game of football. By the third page, you wouldn’t have any idea what was going on and you’d close the book. “What we tried to do is make it user friendly and not so complicated so they wouldn’t close the book after three pages,” explained Hodgson, a former tight end and placekicker at Maine who spent more than 25 years coaching at the college level including a stint from 1994-2000 as the head coach at Castine’s Maine Maritime Academy.
“From my perspective and a female perspective, we included what you need to know, what’s important and what are the basics,” said Caron, who is a professor of family relations and human sexuality at Maine. “And we added all kinds of fun little things like what to wear. You don’t want to wear something in the other team’s colors.”
The book combines Caron’s insatiable thirst for answers to basic questions and Hodgson’s vast knowledge of the sport and its nuances.
The book uses easily-understood terminology to explain football jargon and includes everything from identifying all of the officials and their roles and positioning; a section on what to focus on while watching a game; an explanation of each position; how to read the scoreboard; what goes on before and after a game; an illustration of the field and its markings; what to do at halftime and a glossary of 42 terms one may hear from the play-by-play broadcaster and the color commentator (broken play, clipping, Hail Mary pass, shotgun, zone coverage).
“I always said that we needed to know how to listen to a game. I used to listen to terms (I didn’t understand) and write them down,” said Caron.
“Football is a game women haven’t played. But a lot of men in our lives have played it. It’s nice not to have to interrupt them every five minutes (to ask a question about football),” said Caron.
“One of the women who bought the book made the comment ‘I wish this book had been around before I got divorced. I’d still be married,” chuckled Hodgson.
Caron said the book can, indeed, help strengthen relationships.
“Football could become a shared interest (among couples) and that could increase intimacy and be a plus for a relationship. It would give a couple something to talk about and share,” said Caron.
She also said it could be a useful gift for college students who attend football-crazed institutions.
“If someone is headed to the University of Alabama, they’d better know football,” said Caron.
Caron and Hodgson said they were extremely pleased with the way the book turned out and lauded Ireland’s illustrations.
“It’s beautiful,” said Hodgson, the University of Maine’s newly-named associate athletic director for athletic development. “It’s exactly what we wanted: bright and simple.”
“She is so talented,” said Caron.
Caron and Hodgson said they have already begun writing a more advanced sequel.
University of Maine athletic director and former Harvard University football captain Steve Abbott and Maine football head coach Jack Cosgrove both endorsed the book on the back cover.
“This unique book offers new football fans an easy to understand overview of college football. It is bright and fun. I highly recommend this guide for those women who are new to the sport and who want a better grasp of the game,” wrote Abbott.
Cosgrove labeled it a “much needed and long overdue look at college football for those who think they know, but don’t. An understandable guide to not only what goes into the game, but game day itself. It will undoubtedly educate those who have been afraid to ask. I’d like my wife to purchase the first copy!”
The book can be purchased online at www.tackling-football.com or at bookstores.
An all-weather spiral-bound book with laminated pages costs $17.99, the paperback version is $14.99 and an Amazon Kindle edition is $2.99.