KING COLUMN: The Exciting Game of Paper Football

Published 10:18 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

By Bill King
Pastor at Lanier Baptist Church

We do love our football here in the South. This time of the year is always somewhat bittersweet. It is sweet because we are coming into the exciting time of conference championships, followed by the playoffs and bowl games. The biggest game of the year in the SEC is this weekend. The SEC Championship Game officially decides which SEC team is best, at least on that day. The winner of that game will most likely make the College Football Playoffs. It is bitter because the end of the season, with no more college football until next fall, is just around the corner. Of course, there is still paper football, which anyone can play, any time, and almost anywhere.

I must confess that I have not played a good-game of paper football in quite some time, but I have played my share. What? You’ve never heard of paper football? Perhaps you have, but you just didn’t know what to call it. Paper football is played with, well, a paper football. It takes one sheet of paper to make the football. It can be any size, but probably the most common ones are made from an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of notebook paper. The best method, from my vast experience of making them, is to begin by folding the paper in half lengthwise. Then open it back out, and fold both sides so they meet in the middle, then fold that in half. This should leave you with a piece that is a little over two-inches wide and eleven-inches long. Then you fold one corner over to form a triangle. Then fold that section down the paper repeatedly until you reach the end. Tuck the last piece into the pocket that has been created and now you have your most important piece of equipment for playing paper football…the paper football. You may need to tear a little off the corners in order to get that last section to tuck into the pocket.

You thump the ball across a flat surface with edges, alternating thumps with your opponent. A touchdown is scored when you skillfully manage to land your football on the opponent’s end of the field with any portion of the ball hanging over the edge. A close call may be checked by running a pencil along the end of the field. If the ball moves, it is a touchdown. Since we didn’t have videos back in the day, there are no video reviews. Once a touchdown is scored, your opponent must set up his goalpost by using his hands. For high school rules, the tips of the pointer fingers meet with the thumbs serving as the uprights. For NFL and college rules, the tips of the thumbs meet with the pointer fingers serving as the uprights. To make the kick, you stand your football on one end an attempt to thump it between the uprights. Safety glasses are advised to prevent blindness caused by paper cuts!

Some might say that this game has often been played at inappropriate times. Games are rumored to have been played on the top of school desks (during school), on office desks (during work), or worst of all on Baptist hymnals (during worship). The church games are often played with a smaller ball, made from a gum wrapper, or so I’ve been told. Extra points are not allowed. I am not confessing or denying guilt, but that was a long, long, time ago! I will say that playing during church has been known to draw penalty flags and cause major setbacks!