Talk:Silent Football

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Regarding the clarification of this excellent article[edit]

While it pleases me greatly to find this article on wiki, I agree with others' statements that it is too chaotic and disorganized. I would like to propose (and volunteer to undertake) a significant reorganization of this page.

The main problem is that basic rules are mixed in with regional and cultural variations. Everyone learns a slightly different version of the game the first times they play, and it is tempting to feel allegience to the original rules to which one is accustomed. But to polish this entry, we will need to agree to set that reflex aside and instead put everyone's versions on equal territory.

A secondary problem is that the core rules themselves are deeply convoluted, and even the core rules in this article are explained in a scattered manner that does not really reveal the genius of the game. The convolutedness of the rules is very much a part of that, but Silent Football is not solely about convolution -- it's also about ceremony, and it is about satirizing all of the above. To effectively record the essence of the game, we'll need to explain all of those things. And to do that, we will need more order.

Some will argue that order would make the game too easy to understand. But finding a way to explain the rules so that they may be expressed effectively does not threaten to ease the difficulty in following them, which is the functional import of the convolution as a game device -- and it stands for itself, satirically speaking.

My proposal is very similar to that posted below: separate core rules and variations. What I'd like to add, though, is some overall structure. We should focus on the main sections of the game, and set variations as sub-points below each aspect to which they apply. Here's a sample structure:

- Before the game

  -- preparation (stretching, peeing, telling your loved ones not to wait up, etc).

- Beginning of the game

  -- rule explanation, max penance points is established, etc.

- The body of the game:

  -- Football
     -- here, the rules.
         -- here, variations to each rule, like this.  this will also appear in other sections, but mostly here.
  -- Appeals to the Dictator (parliamentary procedure)
  -- If Penance Points < Max Penance points, then goto "Football"; else goto "End".

- The End of the Game

  -- An explanation of ways the game can end, including but not limited to the reaching of max penance
  -- Things that happen to the loser

A separate section on its meaning and the experience of playing the game would also be welcome additions.

So aside from that, I have only one last question: what in God's name is "The Quiet Game" (see first paragraph of existing entry)? The only quiet part of the game, to my knowledge, is the passing of the ball. Once that section ends with a tattle, the game immediately shifts to parliamentary procedure for ascertaining and shifting responsibility for the first section breaking down. The structure above assumes that this is not, like, a real thing -- if I'm wrong, please explain how.

Thanks 'ballers!

--Pogopark (talk) 02:09, 27 November 2009 (UTC)


Silent Football varies from region to region (UU district to UU District). There are many core elements of Silent Football (dictators, zooms, shrugs), but there are variations on speaking rules, exocism rules and origins too. I propose an over haul to include a core rules sections and then a second section that contains all variations and if possible, marked by region (PSWD plays different from PCD). - Mr._Hat

I agree with Mr.Hat that we should put all the core rules in one section and all the variations and extensions to those rules in another section. And if you go to the article on the game known as Wink, it has a nice example of this.—Devin Murphy 90 20:42, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

I would be willing to put up the Southwest District Rules, though I have actually been out of that community for a few years now. - Thunderrabbit


I would like to undertake a revision here, incorporating Mr Hat's suggestion, and will get to it shortly. Please note the game has transcended the UU world, and become, as of 2000, a staple of the Burning Man community & its billion affiliated clicques. True origins remain opaque, and I would propose stripping the entry of entirely unsourced claims about where it came from. This rumor about an Old British Drinking Game is unsourced and impossible to verify; but it has now circulated widely around Silent Football sites online, thanks I suspect to its prominent mention in the entry here. I've yet to find a Brit who played the game. Plenty of Denverites, Californians, UUs, Sacketeers and Burners however. And, strangest of all, Canadians.

- Spruceball

I noted Spruceball that you fawned it strange that Canadians would be playing this game. But all I can say is that I am a Canadian who also happens to be an UU and I learnt this game at a regional UU youth event where there where both Canadian and American UU’s present. So maybe it was American UU’s who introduced the game to Canadian UU’s, who then introduced it to other Canadians.—Devin Murphy 19:43, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

It is definitely played in Britain. At Warwick University it's known as Imaginary Football, and the leader is known as Mr Chairman. The only moves available are passing left/right (hit appropriate knee once), passing across (make eye contact, bend arm and point with elbow), or passing left/right skipping one person (hit knee twice). I don't think the moves have names. The game is started with a complimentary tip of the hat, then a complimentary salute. Interestingly, the main point of the game seems slightly different from what's described here. Anyone may speak if they raise their hand and ask for permission to speak from the Chairman. There's no requirement to speak only about breaking the rules. As such, each game goes off at a completely different tangent. It is possible to have a two hour long game of Imaginary Football without ever playing the game part of it (i.e. never passing an imaginary football). As all decisions tend to be proposed, seconded, discussed and then called to vote, that can take up the majority of the time in the game and proves hilarious when you get skilled debaters. 86.20.40.177 (talk) 11:33, 7 January 2008 (UTC)


I second Spruceball/Mr_Hat's revisions.

I would like to contribute, but am unfortunately not familiar with Burning man, nor UU, and am more concentrated on the rules of the game and maintainance of this page. Variations would be quite interesting though. I would also like to mention the notice of our page and it's tone; I have considered overhauling that as well. It will be difficult though.

-Karl Schuttler


Is anyone else from Opus2006's game reading this?

- no, but only because I hung out at the fire that night instead of playing. looked like a lot of fun, though!


I contact Troy, who had a long run as dictator at Sackett St, and asked him how the game spread around. Here's the path he gave me:

UUYC & Kevin Heater -> Troy Nachtigall -> Burning Man -> Sackett St -> Robin Thrope

Brian Egge


needs cleanup?[edit]

does it occur to anyone else that this could really use some tidying up? it doesn't look particularly good to me, and there's a lot of random junk in it. i realize it sort of gels with the whole idea of silent football, but really, quality is a good goal. 4.226.12.133 05:05, 14 May 2007 (UTC)


this is happening, but slowly. Baby Steps. Random junk is being removed as it is being seen, but there is a good bit that while seeming random adds to the game itself. If there are changes you think should be made, please go ahead and edit them, and we will eventually reach some sort of happy medium.


-Karl Schuttler

This is spruceball again. Three years later, drunk, and suicidal. I don't think I undertook my revision. I'm not sure what happened. There is no Wikipedia entry for "Sacketeers." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.120.237.124 (talk) 01:32, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Smeab also known as a Zoom[edit]

The Smeab is also known as a Zoom with some groups, specifically UU's, and it is preformed by wrapping one's arm around their head and pointing their elbow towards the person the make eye contact with. Arkkeeper (talk) 00:03, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Relevance to religion[edit]

This article is supposedly within the scope of WikiProject Religion, but there is no mention at all in the article of any religion. What does this game have to do with religion? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ian01 (talkcontribs) 01:56, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

It is a staple game at Young Religious Unitarian Universalist (YRUU) youth conferences.--Devin Murphy(talk) 00:13, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Capitalist[edit]

There doesn't seem to be anything related to capital or capital owners in the economic sense about the "capitalist" variant titles in this description. For example, the title "commissioner" seems more associated with government than with private enterprise.

Either the "capitalist" variants ought to be re-named, or, if "capitalist" is a technical term within the game, or a customary name for a variation of the game, that ought to be explained, and the special uses of "capitalist" clearly distinguished from the normal senses of the word.

Agemegos (talk) 22:48, 11 December 2010 (UTC)