Silent Football

Southwest District Rules


Silent Football is neither silent, nor football. In the words of the brilliant dictator Nick Carter, "it's a game of verbal and arithmetical precision." And it's a whole lot of fun.

[According to YRUU legend, Silent Football was originally a British drinking game. This makes sense, as Brits hang out in pubs all the time and believe they've got a pretty good grasp of English, a vital part of this game. Instead of playing in pubs with alcohol, we always play at rallies starting around 2 or 3am Saturday night after worship and the talent show; the lack of sleep people have experienced by that point in the rally mimics any affects of alcohol.]


Two or more players, and enough space so that the group can sit in a circle, allowing each player to see each other player. Realistically, Silent Football should have at least 5 players. [I have played games with fewer players, but only with people who love love love the game. At ConCon 1999, Bryn Cain and I played a 2 person game of Silent Football for 45 minutes. Totally fantastic.]


Each player's objective in the game is to not lose. One loses by being the first to accumulate five penance points. (Penance point distribution is discussed below.) [But the real object of the game is for everyone to have fun!]

Game Play:

example circle All players are arranged in a circle. One player is selected to be the Dictator. The Dictator will basically run the game and will probably do most of the talking. The Dictator can do anything s/he wants, including making up new rules, or changing the names of players to make things more entertaining.

Once everyone is arranged, the Dictator should explain the rules of the game.

The game is played until a loser is declared, or until the game falls apart into fits of giggles, or fades into sleep. If a loser is declared, that person will be asked to leave the circle while the remaining players think of a penance for that player. Something silly or embarrassing, as appropriate for the person and situation.


Rules - The Circle:

The Sacred Circle is all that exists. It is the players' universe. Players therefore may not notice, watch, react to, or otherwise interact with non-existent entities that do not exist within the game. Interacting with non-existent entities is a form of hallucination, and any hallucinating player may be awarded penance points and advised to seek medical attention after the conclusion of the universe.

If, however, the game is adversely affected by non-existent entities, the Dictator may declare a Holy Jihad, resulting in about half of the universe leaping out of its respective seats and chasing the now-existing entities down the hall, or dogpiling them in the middle of the universe, simulating for these entities the conditions near the surface of Jupiter.

[The first Jihad in Southwest District was organized by presiding Dictator Nick Carter at Fort Worth Rally, 1997, I think.]

Rules - Motion of the Football:

The Sacred Silent Football exists only in the minds of the players. Starting with the Dictator, the football is moved from player to player with a series of hand motions.

During motion of the football, the dictator is treated as any other player. Everyone is silent(!) and respectful, for this is a game of highest dignity and valor.

There are two offensive moves. They are the Fwap and the Zoom. These moves send the football from a player to another player in the circle.

There are two defensive moves: the Shrug and the Shrodem. These moves refuse the football that has been Fwapped or Zoomed to a player. (e.g. if Lawren Zooms the football to Dan, Dan may refuse the football by shrugging, sending it back to Lawren.)

No move may be used more than two times in a row. And the defensive moves may -*! NEVER !*- be used against one another.

Just recite the following:

You can Zoom a Zoom, but you can't Zoom a Zoomed Zoom.
You can Fwap a Fwap, but you can't Fwap a Fwapped Fwap.
You can Shrug a Shrug, but you can't Shrug a Shrugged Shrug.
You can Shrodem and Shrodem, but you can't Shrodem a Shrodemmed Shrodem.
And you may never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever
Shrug a Shrodem nor Shrodem a Shrug!!

The Zoom:

The first offensive move is The Zoom. It is performed by extending one's right arm and right fist toward another player, and making eye contact with that player. One may not refuse a Zoom by avoiding eye contact with the Zooming player.

A player correctly accused of Zooming a Zoomed Zoom will likely receive one half of one penance point and have to do a booty dance in the middle of the circle while the rest of the universe chants "All I wanna do is zoom a zoom zoom and a boom boom! Just shake your rump!" three times through. (to the tune of Wreck N Effect's "Rump Shaker")

The Fwap:

The other offensive move is the Fwap.

The Fwap is performed by striking/clapping one's right hand upon one's right leg, or by striking one's left hand upon one's left leg, or a careful combination of striking one's right hand upon one's right leg and one's left hand upon one's left leg.

Given players seated as in the example image above, if the dictator has the Sacred Silent Football, the dictator could fwap the dictator's own right leg twice, sending the football two spaces to the dictator's right, in this case to Ben.

The dictator could fwap three times on the right leg, moving the football to Ryan, or once on the right leg, sending the football to Mike.

For variety, the dictator could fwap three times on the right leg, and twice on the left leg, moving the football the equivalent of one space to the dictator's right, to Mike.

The same idea works when Fwapping to the left.

Limits on Fwaps:

A player may fwap upon his/her legs in any combination imaginable so long as the following rules of fwappage are followed:

A player correctly accused of Fwapping a Fwapped Fwap will likely receive one half of one penance point and have to do a booty dance in the middle of the circle while the rest of the universe chants "All I wanna do is fwap a fwapped fwap and a clap clap! Just shake your rump!" three times through. (to the tune of Wreck N Effect's "Rump Shaker")

The Shrug:

The first defensive move is the Shrug. It's performed simply by shrugging one's own shoulders. The Shrug refuses the football that was Fwapped or Zoomed to the player.

Remember, a Shrug must *NEVER* be used in response to a Shrodem!

The Shrodem:

The other defensive move is much more elegant than the Shrug and should only be performed in a most dignified manner by the most dignified of players. Also, it has a funny name: The Shrodem. A Shrodem is performed by placing one's right fist or fingers near one's forehead, while placing one's left fingers on one's right elbow.

A Shrodem must NEVER be used against a Shrug!


A player must NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, NEVER EVER NEVER EVER NEVER SHRUG A SHRODEM NOR SHRODEM A SHRUG, for this is The Most Heinous crime in the entire game of Silent Football, and will reduce the universe to a pile of ash and rubble, ending the game for eternity. Plus, that player will immediately lose.

Rules - Discussion:

If a player happens to make an error during motion of the Sacred Silent Football, or speaks out of turn, hallucinates some non-existent entity, or performs some unnecessary motion (such as sticking one's toe into one's mouth), or otherwise violates any rule contrary to the fine upstanding values of Silent Football, another player may attempt to tattle upon that player. To tattle, a player must raise his or her own hand, and silently wait to be acknowledged by the Dictator.

Let's say, for example, Mikey felt inspired to ignore the football, and instead suck on his big toe.

An example tattle may go like this:

[Josephine raises her hand.]

Mr Dictator: "Miss Josephine?" [At this point, the motion of the football immediately stops. All attention is given to the discussion.]

Josephine: "Mr Dictator, Mr Mikey has put Mr Mikey's big toe into Mr Mikey's mouth."

Mr Dictator: "Miss Josephine is correct. Mr Mikey receives one half of one penance point for putting Mr Mikey's toe into Mr Mikey's mouth. Mr Mikey is asked to keep all of Mr Mikey's toes carefully aligned on the ground."

The preceding dialog includes two important rules of discussion:

  1. When acknowledged by the dictator, the first thing out of a player's mouth must be "Mr/Ms/Madame Dictator" or whatever the Dictator expects to be called during the game.
  2. When speaking, no player may use pronouns such as "he" "she" "it" "they" "we" "us" "you" "him" "her" "hers" "his" etcetera, except for first person singular pronouns, "I" "me" "my" "myself" and "mine," and words which are not always pronouns, such as the demonstrative pronouns "this" "that" and "those."

See the second example tattle:

[Josephine raises her hand.]

[Play continues until Josephine is acknowledged.]

Mr Dictator: "Miss Josephine?" [The motion of the football immediately stops.]

Josephine: "Mr Dictator," Josephine addresses the Dictator first, as required, "Mr Mikey has put Mr Mikey's big toe into his mouth like this, quote" [Josephine mimics Mikey by temporarily putting her big toe into her mouth.] "instead of passing the football."

[Several other hands have just gone up, for Josephine has made two errors.]

Mr Dictator: "Miss Josephine is correct; Mr Mikey gets one half of one penance point for unnecessary and illegal toe suckage."

[Mr Dictator now calls upon someone else who has raised his hand.] "Mr Ben?"

Mr Ben: "Mr Dictator, Miss Josephine has just uttered the heinous and vile pronoun quote his."

Mr Dictator: "Mr Ben is correct. Miss Josephine receives a half penance point for uttering quote his."

[Mr Dictator calls upon someone else whose hand is raised.] "Mr Nick?"

Mr Nick: "(ahem) Mistah Dictatah, sah," [for our entertainment, Mr Nick has chosen to affect a southern accent] "as entahtaining as Miss Josepheen may have been with Miss Josepheen's comical and may Ah repeet entahtaining revue of Mistah Mahkey's podiahtric consumption, Ah must infohm Mistah Dictatah that Miss Josepheen has willfully and eggregiously neglected tah uttah the simple yet ahbsolutahly criticahl wahd quote unquote unquote aftah Miss Josepheen's pahfomance."

Mr Dictator: "Mr Nick is correct and Miss Josephine receives one half of one penance point for not unquoting Miss Josephine's toe suckage."

In the example above, we see more rules of discussion:

  1. A pronoun may be legally spoken only if quoting another player, and by speaking the word "quote" before it. This absolves the speaker of committing the same crime of having uttered the pronoun. The word "unquote" may optionally be uttered after the pronoun.
  2. If a player quotes a phrase or an illegal action, the phrase or illegal action must be prefixed by the word "quote" and postfixed by the word "unquote."

Making "bunny ears" to quote is illegal. One does not need to use one's hands to speak, especially during utterance of the words "quote" and "unquote." Any player who makes bunny ears will likely receive a half penance point and be required to give an interpretive performance of "Little Bunny Foo Foo" complete with hand gestures in the middle of the circle. Creativity is encouraged.

Rules - Names:

Before starting the game, players in the circle may choose their own name. The Dictator may take as long as s/he needs to memorize all the names. (Sometimes I give negative penance points to players who use their own name, or the same funny name they've used for ages.)

The Dictator's name consists of three parts: The first part is a masculine address such as "Mister." The second part is a reference to male genitalia, such as "Dick." And the third part is a reference to a potato, such as "Tater." So, for example, "Mister Dick Tater" would be a fine thing to call the Dictator.

Players are encouraged to use this rule creatively; the results can be quite entertaining! (Nick Carter came up with this rule in about 1998, in Austin, Texas.)

Rules - Etcetera:

If a player must visit the restroom, that player may use the restroom signal: waving their raised hand. The Dictator will simply nod and that person can get up. At the Dictator's discretion, the player may or may not have to wait until the next round of Football motion to rejoin the circle.

The Dictator can change the names of players, or arbitrarily make players do (or not do) different things. [Like when I forbade Ryan from doing his terrible attempt at a Hindi accent, and required him to do a different accent each time he spoke. And the time I made Kris Scott play guitar and sing each time he tattled. And the time Madame Dictator Mimi La Valley made a player lie on his stomach during the motion and discussion.]

When the Dictator is ready to begin the game, or to shift from discussion back to motion of the Sacred Silent Football, the Dictator simply says, "Customary Tip of the Hat," after which everyone repeats "Tip of the Hat" and tips their (imaginary) hats. All previous crimes, transgressions, infractions are forgotten and may not be brought up again. Only the penance points remain. The Dictator may Tip The Hat at anytime. Evil Dictators may do this to prevent the Dictator from being tattled upon for an error.

Then, "Customary Shroop," after which everyone repeats "Shroop" and takes an imaginary drink from an imaginary cup, mug, stein, forty ounce, barrel, or maybe a real beverage. Beverages and snacks do exist in the universe. This helps keep games going for hours.

The Dictator can then add any more Customaries s/he desires, and the group should repeat them as appropriate. When the Dictator feels enough Customaries have been uttered, the Dictator Fwaps or Zooms the ball to someone, beginning the Sacred Silent Football motion.

- - - -

That's it. Above describes a full set of rules for Silent Football.

But, the Southwest District has a whole new world of rules that we've enjoyed since SWUUSI 2001.