Written by Dallas, Texas resident Mark Oristano, A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game is designed to be your very basic guide to football. While much of the discussion centers on the pro game, the explanations will also in many places apply to the college game and high school as well. This book is not designed for those who follow the draft religiously, engage in fantasy football, or ever played the game. It is designed for the person sitting next to you who knows nothing about football, only watches the Superbowl, and drives you crazy with questions.


I know. I have one. I do love her but the Superbowl is not the time for her to ask me anything.


After a brief acknowledgment section and an introduction explaining the author’s background which will be familiar to fans of the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Oilers, Mark Oristano makes the point that one play can make or break the game. It could be when a wide open Jackie Smith dropped an end zone pass from Roger Staubach in Superbowl XIII.  A pass that still haunts legions of Cowboy fans and was the turning point in a game that ultimately the Steelers won.  and. It could be a pass that Plaxico Buress caught from Eli Manning of the Giants in Superbowl XLII. How the team gets to that play is determined by what happens on offense, defense, and special teams.


In successive chapters, Mark Oristano breaks down what happens in each group.  He starts with the absolute basic information explaining what the initials for a position stand for, how the player or players line up, what each player/position does on the field, what downs are, etc.  Along the way, when he is not referring to football as a living chess game, he throws in a lot of humorous anecdotes relating mainly to football that he experienced or knows about because of his thirty years plus as a broadcaster, working in the public relations department of the Cowboys and other jobs.


He also covers information on the refs and how they do their jobs (or not depending on what replay shows) and how not to take the game as life or death.  It isn’t.  It is just a game as the author points out. (Something this fan is working on remembering as I can’t take the stress these days like I could years ago.)  This leads into a nine page glossary of terms that closes out the 146 page book.


Aimed at the novices, much of the explanatory game information in A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game will bore a true fan. However, the humorous anecdotes and humorous tales will make the book worthy of their interest. Those new to the game will learn a lot about it from his good book released through Synergy Books.





A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game


Mark Oristano




Synergy Books






ISBN# 978-0-9821601-1-4




146 Pages







Material supplied by Scott Lorenz of publicist West Wind Communications in exchange for my objective review.





Kevin R. Tipple © 2010



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