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Street football (American)

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Title: Street football (American)  
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Subject: Touch football (American), New York Pro Football League, Trap run, Block in the back, Drop-back pass
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Street football (American)

QCBFL Football - Backyard football game in the snow. Vander Veer Park (Davenport, Iowa)

Street football, also known as backyard football or sandlot football, is a simplified variant of American football primarily played informally by youth. It features far less equipment and fewer rules than its counterparts, but unlike the similar touch football, features full tackling.

Main game

An organized version has seven players to a side, playing both sides of the ball; however, such organization is rare and players per side can range from as few as one ("one on one" football) to dozens. Games are played on fields generally ranging from as short as 10 to as large as 50 yards, with the occasional game being played on a full-size regulation 100 yard field. Generally, the larger the field, the more players that can be incorporated into the game.


Most forms of backyard or street football use ad hoc house rules that vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

The teams organize each other at the beginning of the game; if there are no pre-selected teams, team captains are usually appointed and take turns picking available players. In the event of an odd number of players, one player will usually serve as an "official quarterback" or "all-time QB," who plays on offense the whole game and cannot run the ball past the line of scrimmage, or, if more players are on their way, the team who is short handed will automatically draft the newcomer upon arrival. Teams can be identified solely by memory or by the shirts versus skins system; uniforms are rare, and even those that are used are generally low-cost pinnies.

The two teams organize on opposite sides of the field for the kickoff. Because of skill, field size and other issues, this is usually not a kickoff but rather a punt-off or a throw-off. Many versions skip this process and start the offense at a certain point, similar to a touchback in other national leagues.

As in regular American football, each team usually has four center (American football) is optional, depending on the rules set forth, and other ways to start the play (e.g. the quarterback picking up the ball directly, or holding the ball out prior to starting play, then pulling it back to begin) are often used in lieu of a snap. Play continues until there is a turnover on downs (i.e. the offensive team fails to complete two passes in four downs), an interception occurs, or the team on offense scores a touchdown. Touchdowns are worth 6, 7, or 1 point(s) depending on the rules set out before the game.

Field goals and extra point kicks are nonexistent (streets and backyards have no goal posts), although punts can frequently happen, usually during "4th and 2 completions" situations where the offensive team cannot earn a first down. (In games played on regulation fields, these kicks can be attempted, but only in certain scoring systems.)

In the event a touchdown is scored, the team on offense will normally stay in the end zone in which they had just scored and the other team will go into the main field and field the subsequent kickoff. Thus, until an interception or turnover on downs, both teams defend and attempt to score on the same end zone.

Rules greatly vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, and are customarily set before each game. There can be a rush on the QB depending on the rules set out before the game. Usually if rushes are allowed, there are 2 rules that are commonly applied: call rush and blitz count. Call rush is the first rule of rushing the QB in street. This is where the defense calls "Blitz" in a loud voice before the offense hikes the ball, signifying that they will rush, but there is also a counter effect with this. The QB can get out of the pocket and run without having to pass or hand off the ball, also the quarterback can call "shotgun" before or after the other team says "blitz" causing the opposite to have to count to 5 or 10 depending on whether or not they called blitz 5 calling "Conversions after a TD usually aren't applied and they can only be attempted from the 6 (or occasionally 7) point TD system, but if they are, there are several conversion systems, including "single point," "pass-run," yardage and "runback." The single-point is the simplest of the rules, in which any successful conversion is worth one point. Pass run is used in some midget leagues and awards 2 points for a pass and one point for a run. Usually all pass-run conversions are attempted from the 1- or 2-yard line. The second conversion system is the yardage system, similar to that used in the XFL playoffs, the Lingerie Football League, and the Stars Football League. The yardage system is formatted like this: 1-point conversions are attempted from the 1- or 5-yard line, and 2-point conversions are attempted from the 2- or 10-yard line. The runback is the most rare of the conversion rules, and is most often implemented in one-on-one games. In this version, the play does not end once the ball crosses the goal line; instead, the player with the ball must change direction and advance it all the way back to the other end zone for two points.

The game ends when a pre-determined number of touchdowns or points has been scored, or an arbitrary time is reached (for instance, dusk or the start of school).

Penalties are rare and are usually only enforced in the most egregious cases, such as serious injuries or blatant pass interference. Most games use the honor system in lieu of a referee and/or an officiating crew.


Several other games involving a football are also played in streets and backyards.

One such game, known variously as "Smear the Queer", "kill the man with the ball," "kill the carrier," "Kill 'Da Man", "Tackle Kill", "bull in the ring", "Muckle","Throw Back", "Loco", "Throw-Up Tackle", "Throw it up Football", "Pig Slaughter", "Crush The Carrier", "Pick'em up Bust'em", and "Rumble Fumble" is an every man for himself free for all. The concept is simple. One player throws the football backwards, away from the acting 'endzone'. Whoever catches the ball tries not to get tackled as he heads towards the endzone. If he is tackled, he has to give up the ball. All players without the ball try to tackle the player with the ball and get the ball for themselves. There are no winners and no rules and the game can continue ad infinitum.

There are also games like Jump off (also known as Jackpot), in which there is one thrower on each side and they throw the ball anywhere they like; the receiver with the most catches wins. Similarly, the game "500" involves one thrower throwing to several receivers. In this game, the thrower will assign point values for each catch; the first receiver to reach 500 points wins.


Organized sandlot football has been around since as early as 1908; in that year, a circuit was launched in Rochester, New York after the city banned high school football in its schools. The circuit produced a team known as the Rochester Jeffersons, who later joined the National Football League as a charter member in 1920, as well as several other teams that lasted into the 1930s.[1]

Street football is usually played as a pick-up game and has very little organization. The largest and most successful organized league for no pads, tackle football is TownBeef. It was formed in 2006 in New Jersey, USA and has since grown to include more than 30 teams. It has also branched off to form leagues in Florida and Pennsylvania. **UPDATE** The TownBeef league has announced in 2014 that they will scale this American 7's version of football into the A7FL. They're web site is

In 2012, a backyard football league was created in Davenport, Iowa. Always expanding, the Quad Cities Backyard Football League brings together local semi-pro football players as well as backyard football players from the surrounding areas. Four teams battle during the spring, summer, and fall seasons, to see who's the best. Following a set rules involving a mix between traditional college and pro football rules, the QCBFL is the only organized backyard football league in the upper midwest. Pick-up games are sponsored by the QCBFL and follow the same rules created for league-play. For more information, visit

A prominent organization of football was similarly created in the Backyard Football League (BFL) of Connecticut, formed at RHAM High School in 2008. It adopted many of the customary rules exercised by pick-up football leagues and is best known for their annual "Turkey Bowl" during Thanksgiving and "Snow Bowl" which takes place in mid-December. Their post-game cookout, which often draws significant attention from the community, is also an identifying tradition of the league.

In video games

Street football has been used as the basis for two very different video games. EA Sports's NFL Street is a rules-light version of football played by NFL stars, similar to the Blitz series created by Midway Games. Atari's Backyard Football series, on the other hand, is a more kid-friendly game where the players are child versions of NFL stars.


  1. ^ Carroll, Bob. THE TOWN THAT HATED PRO FOOTBALL. Pro Football Researchers Association Coffin Corner: Vol. III, 1981.
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