in: Games & Tricks, Living

• Last updated: May 30, 2021

How to Play Paper Football

Illustration of comics on paper football in a business meeting.

Comic from Married to the Sea.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jason Mills. If your boys are already bored with their Christmas toys and are getting restless on their holiday break, take some time to play a game of paper football with them. They’ll have so much fun you’ll wonder why you spent so much dough getting them an ipod last week.

So, you’d planned a great father/son day of doing manly things in the great outdoors. You’ve been talking about it for weeks, but the day dawns and Mother Nature’s had a mood swing. Yup, it’s raining, and your plans are ruined. While there are many things that you can do on your own at the house, don’t blow that chance to connect with your son even if you don’t have a back-up plan.

Here’s my suggestion: play some good old fashioned paper football. I can hear you now. Paper football, are you nuts? That’s not the point, but yes, I’m serious. Its easy to play whether you’re a first-timer or an old veteran who whiled away many a high school study hall (not that I’d know what that’s like). It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s a great time of innocent competition (and it’s not a video game!). All you need is a flat surface like a tabletop and a piece of paper. Ready? Let’s play.

Make Your Football

First you need to fold a standard 8.5 X 11 inch sheet of paper like you’re folding Old Glory:

1. Fold it in half lengthwise.
2. Fold it in half lengthwise again.
3. With the closed side of the paper facing you, fold the closed corner to the upper edge of the open edge.
4. Repeat step 3 in alternating triangles.
5. Tuck the last bit of paper into the triangle.

Your football is now ready.

Object and Gameplay

The object of the game is to get more points than your opponent. Play is simple; you push the football (however you want) from your side of the table to your opponent’s side. If the football hangs over the edge of the table without falling off, you score a touchdown (1 point). If it doesn’t hang off, it’s your opponent’s turn to try.

If you get a touchdown, you get to “kick” a field goal. Your opponent points his index fingers together with his thumbs up to make the goal posts, and then you kick it through the posts. To attempt your field goal, stand the football on the table and hold it with one index finger. Then, flick it with the other hand. If you’re successful, you get another point.

Rules and Suggestions

There really are very few rules in most paper football games. Touchdowns are determined by the ball hanging off the edge of the table. Field goals are kicked after a successful touchdown. Both are worth a point each.

The really cool thing about this game is that there are endless variations to the basic format. There was the “first-to-X-points” variety I played in study hall. We usually did 15 points.

You can also develop penalties if you want. For example, it’s bad form to stop a football before it stops on its own. If you’re playing an opponent who continually does this, institute a penalty kick to get him to follow the rules. Every time he touches the football before it stops, you get a penalty field goal.

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