Silent Football

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Silent Football is one of the most amazing and traditional CTY games and is played at many sites, although most commonly at Lancaster. In fact, it is such a well known and traditional CTY game it is actually listed as an example of an activity under the "Student Life" section of the official CTY website. Silent Football does not involve a football and is definitely not silent, but in named for the imaginary, or silent, football that is passed during gameplay. It was brought to Lancaster by one Richard West, who once returned to teach an activity about the game's more advanced rules.

Silent Football is played with at least three (preferably seven or more) players, one of whom is Mr. Dictator (usually regardless of gender). These players sit in a circle so that each player can see each other player's knees. This circle of players is called "The Universe," and nothing outside The Universe exists—they are hallucinations. When the game starts, free speech is revoked and players may not speak unless called upon by Mr. Dictator. Players pass the Silent Football and try as hard as they can not to screw up. If a player screws up, the other players must tattle on them and he or she may be awarded Penance Points. When a player reaches five Penance Points, the game is over, the player has lost, and all other players have not lost. Alternatively, when the game is forced to end, the players with five or more Penance Points lose. Also, if the game ends prematurely, some versions require the player with the most Penance Points to "lose." The player(s) who loses must perform an embarrassing action decided upon by the winning portion of the universe. Mr. Dictator can lose. This can be very funny.

A rumor that was rampant during LAN 05.2 was that at midnight each night, the RAs would play Silent Football, leaving the halls unsupervised. This was tested and the results were that although there were no Silent Football games, that halls were, indeed, left unsupervised.

"Mr. Dictator, what is love?" is a webcomic by a 2013.1 LAN camper, Masha Zhdanova, that is a good introduction to silent football and feels.

Player Names

In Silent Football, players do not keep their names from outside of The Universe.

Players go around The Universe and choose names for themselves. There are three parts to any name:

  1. Words
    • The words can be anything one's heart desires. Shorter is generally preferred, and if it has any heinous pronouns the name must be in quotes (although some dictators allow pronouns to be in names without the quotes). Non-word noises are also acceptable, so long as the other players are able to repeat them.
  2. Tone
    • One may use as silly a tone as one wishes; for example, if a player states their name in a low deep grumble, then all other players referring to said player must say the name using a similar low deep grumble, so long as the other players are able to repeat the tone.
  3. Gestures
    • If any gestures are used when saying the name, then those gestures must be mimicked every time one refers to the player.

Mr. Dictator

Mr. Dictator is the leader of the Silent Football game, and is responsible for starting off play, including at the beginning of the game, after the silent football is dropped, and after tattling, listening to tattling, and awarding Penance Points. Before the game begins, Mr. Dictator is also responsible for approving players' names; if a player attempts to give a name with heinous pronouns, or simply one that Mr. Dictator does not fancy, it is Mr. Dictator's prerogative to change it. Usually, Mr. Dictator must be referred to as such before tattling; failure to do so results in Penance Points. However, Mr. Dictator also has the ability to change Mr. Dictator's own name if Mr. Dictator so desire.

Mr. Dictator is usually simply chosen by consensus, but methods may vary. An effective method is rock papers scissors, best 2 out of 3.

Free Speech

Free Speech is speaking at any time without any regard to the normal speaking rules of Silent Football. Normally, it is the first thing to be revoked from The Universe after the game begins and signifies the true beginning of play. It can be revoked by Mr. Dictator before or after names have been chosen and can be given when rules are being explained or whenever Mr. Dictator fancies.

Offensive Moves

There are two offensive moves in Silent Football.


The first offensive move is called the fwap (sometimes also called the "thwap"). One performs a fwap by hitting one's knees in combinations of right knee and left knee. One must hit one's right knee with one's right hand and one's left knee with one's left hand. Doing otherwise would be silly, and a player may receive Penance Points, or, alternatively, may have to listen to the tentacles song.

Because of the additive nature of this move, the terminology becomes, at times, confusing. Both the entire move and a single slap of the knee may be known as a "fwap." Some choose, then, to call the entire move a "fwappage ensemble," or simply a "fwappage."

Every hit of the right knee moves the Silent Football a space to the right. Every hit of the left knee moves the Silent Football one space to the left. One may hit one's knees in any combination of rights and lefts with a few restrictions;

  • At no point during the fwap may the Silent Football move to someone more than three spaces to either side of the player who performed the fwap.
  • At no time may one pass the Silent Football to or through oneself. This is called a Cold Rush of Air and can turn your skin into monsters or peanuts, or your blood into tiny dinosaurs, depending on the Mr. Dictator. This is very bad for the health and is to be avoided.
  • If one receives the Silent Football from a fwap, a player may not change the net direction of said fwap (e.g., if A fwaps R-R-L to B, B must fwap to the right, because B sits to the right of A).
  • A player may fwap a fwap, but a player may not fwap a fwapped fwap (this has been dubbed in some games a "masturbatory action").
  • By some rules, a fwap may only last 5 seconds, although this is discouraged due to the resultant inability to create massive fwappage ensembles.
  • If a fwap is interrupted, (either by someone raising his hand or by someone trying to pass the silent football during a pause in the fwap), the fwap continues on as if nothing has happened.


The second offensive move is called the zoom. The zoom is performed by making a fist with one's right hand and extending one's straightened arm in any direction. One must make direct eye contact with the player one wishes to zoom to, though one need not point one's fist at the receiving player (this can be quite confusing). The player who receives the eye contact is passed the Silent Football. Some rules state that the fist must point at the intended recipient, but fist direction is generally ignored.

  • A player may zoom a zoom, but a player may not zoom a zoomed zoom (this, by some players, is known as a "Mazda" for its resemblance to the line sung in many of their advertisements).

Defensive Moves

There are two defensive moves in Silent Football.


The first defensive move is the shrug. The shrug is performed just as the name implies: one raises one's shoulders. The shrug passes the Silent Football back to the player who passed it.

  • One may shrug a shrug, but one may never shrug a shrugged shrug.


The second defensive move is the shrodem, also sometimes spelled "shrotum" or "schrodem." The shrodem is performed by taking one's left hand and placing it horizontally across one's chest. One then places one's right elbow on one's left fingers, and places one's right fingers on one's temple. If this is not preformed correctly, a player may tattle. ("So-and-so, what is quote this (performs player's silly move) unquote? This is not a shrodem. Quote this (performs move correctly) unquote is a shrodem!") The shrodem passes the Silent Football back to the player who passed it.

  • One may shrodem a shrodem, but one may never shrodem a shrodemed shrodem.

Now one may ask, "Why two moves? They do the same thing." Wrong. They are different. They are pronounced differently, they are spelled differently, and they are performed differently. There is one more important rule about shrodems and shrugs, and this is the most important rule of Silent Football. Breaking this rule is like dividing the universe by zero. It's like throwing kittens out of airplanes. It's like pouring milk on something that doesn't like milk! It will cause the universe and everyone in it to scream out in pain and writhe in agony for several minutes. This spectacle often disturbs those trying to relax nearby.



If one sees a player break one of the rules of Silent Football, one may raise one's hand in order to inform Mr. Dictator of the rule breaking. Here is the proper procedure for tattling:

  1. Raise your hand.
  2. Wait to be addressed by Mr. Dictator.
  3. Make darn sure that the first words out of your mouth are "Mr. Dictator", or whatever name Mr. Dictator has taken.
  4. State your concern.

Heinous Pronouns

There are a few restrictions to speech:

  • One may never refer to a player by a player's real name, only the name assigned that player at the beginning of the game.
  • One may not refer to other players using pronouns, for pronouns degrade people and make them feel bad.
    • One may refer to oneself with pronouns such as I, me, my, or the royal We. (Interpretations of this rule vary.)
      • Use of the royal we (or pluralis maiestatis if you're feeling pedantic) may be indicated by a gesture towards oneself. Otherwise it is an ambiguous and questionable use of a pronoun and may be awarded penance points.
    • One may refer to hallucinations with pronouns, for they are not people.
    • Relative pronouns or interrogative pronouns are not heinous.
    • When tattling on a player for using a heinous pronoun one must encase the pronoun in quotes by saying
      • "Mr. Dictator, player X has used the heinous pronoun quote (insert pronoun) unquote."
    • Airquotes are not quotes. They indicate love of bunny rabbits. If airquotes are used, then one will be asked if one loves bunny rabbits. If one says no, then one will receive Penance Points for perjury.
  • Some Mr. Dictators will not give themselves penance points, but if a Mr. Dictator does perform anything penance worthy, Mr. Dictator still should get the points. It is possible for Mr. Dictator to lose.


All that exists is The Universe. If one reacts to a person or thing outside of The Universe, one is obviously reacting to hallucinations which are the result of hallucinogens. Hallucinations used to be called "Anarchist Communist Pigdog Forces," but the name changed sometime between CTY .04 and .06.

  • Food and drink are part of the universe and are not hallucinations.
  • Clothes and everything else brought into The Universe at the start of the game exists.
  • If a hallucination blocks view of knees then Mr. Dictator may call jihad and allow The Universe to lick and/or tackle said hallucination.
  • If one pulls up grass, one must eat it. Otherwise it is not food and is a hallucination. Alternatively, one will be diagnosed with having sexual tension and will be asked to describe the person or object that induced such. A favorite answer to this, of course, is "your mom." Who, of course, is a hallucination. This answer offers more problems than answers. One risk of this rule is, of course, the pesticides and fertilizers spread out on the grass. Therefore, circles having an RA as Mr. Dictator usually assign penance points right off the bat for grass picking.
  • Music and Hammertime exist in The Universe.
  • Also, in Lancaster, Turkey Hill, the sacred store, exists in all Universes.
  • Staff members and RAs can interact with any Universe at any time.
  • Random flailing gestures (such as seizures) may be made at any time to help disperse possible hallusinations.


Mr. Dictator can call a jihad upon noticing that a hallucination is interfering too often or too drastically. Jihad is different for different groups; some groups even physically beat the hallucinations, but this is discouraged due to great risk and history of injury. Licking is often a less harmful, if also less sanitary, alternative. A type of Jihad that was favored at LOS 08.1 was to glomp the offending hallucination.

NOTE: This is not an actual rule, it is a practice that has arisen recently.

WARNING: Most of the RAs and staff members frown upon jihading and can break up a game of Silent Football if it seems that the circle is going to hurt a halluncination.

Losing Silent Football

Once a player has attained a predetermined number of Penance Points, said player has lost. Also if the game ends prematurely, some versions require the player with the most points to "lose." The Universe must decide proper compensation for having disrupted The Universe so deeply. The loser must perform an embarrassing action (for example, dressing up funny for a whole day). However, this cannot involve unwilling volunteers. For instance, having to grab the buttocks of that attractive head cheerleader is not acceptable penance unless said cheerleader agrees to it. The penance can, however, involve unwilling penitents. A person might have to wear a bikini all day.

Advanced Rules

During 08.2, Richard West, thought to be responsible for bringing the game to Lancaster, ran an activity entitled "Silent Football: Advanced Moves and Techniques". These rules are meant to be used by players who are experienced with the basic moves, especially those who are good enough at gameplay that they mess up too rarely to receive enough Penance Points for the game to finish quickly. These rules are designed to be tricky and introduce both added fun and added chances for penance.


Wormholes are created by Mr. Dictator between two players in the universe. When a player on one end of the wormhole receives the Silent Football, the football then travels through the wormhole, and play continues with the player on the other end of the wormhole in possession of the Silent Football. Wormholes may be bi-directional or one-way; one-way wormholes are usually used in sequence, such that a player who is on the receiving end of one wormhole is the entrance point for a second wormhole. Wormholes only take effect after the football reaches its otherwise final destination; if a fwap takes the football through one end of a wormhole, then it is not sucked into the wormhole mid-fwap. After a player receives the football through a wormhole, they still may not reverse the direction of a fwap, or perform any other actions which would normally be illegal. However, the wormhole does enable a player to zoom the football to himself, by zooming it to the starting end of a wormhole linked to them. This is fun to watch and even more fun to do.

If a defensive move returns the Silent Football to player on one end of the wormhole, then the football follows the same path as it would for an offensive move; it is first moved to the player who performed the previous move, then sucked into the wormhole and out of their possession.

Parallel Universes

A single game of Silent Football may be played with two or more parallel universes, between which a single Silent Football is shared. Each universe may have its own Mr. Dictator, or the same player may act as Mr. Dictator for multiple universes. Players in one universe must treat members of other universes as hallucinations, with appropriate penance for failure to do so. Mr. Dictator is usually exempt from this rule. This means that players must remember who is a member of their own universe and who is not, which sometimes gets confusing with one of the popular setups for a parallel universe game, where there are two universes sitting in the same circle with players alternating universes (i.e. with universes A and B, players sit ABABAB...). This also leads to many instances of players stealing the Silent Football from another (hallucinatory) universe, another great opportunity for penance.

Moving the ball between universes to allow gameplay for everyone can be accomplished in several ways. Parallel universes can be used along with wormholes, so that one player in each universe is a bridge to the other. (In the sample game for the activity, the Mr. Dictators for the two universes were linked by wormhole.) Alternatively, if multiple universes share a Mr. Dictator, the game may be played entirely in one universe for a stretch of time, with play switching to the other universe when play is restarted after tattling.

Online Version

There is a CTY Lancaster Silent Football Facebook group, where Silent Football is played online. Anyone may join this group. The rules are as follows:

Beginning the Game

Make a list of all those playing. The order of the list is essentially like the order of people sitting around in the universe. The list shall be posted on the News for the Group and should include both names for each player.

Moving the Football

The Football is moved by posting a Fwap, which shall be done like so: "F(l/r)." The letters in parentheses indicate the direction of the fwap and can be repeated, moving one space for each F, either left or right (i.e. Fr Fr Fl Fr is fwapping twice to the right, once to the left, and once more to the right). A zoom is done by posting "Zoom: [Zoomee]" as email and messaging make this far too complicated, and difficult to spot one who drops the Silent Football. Shrugs and Shrotums are self-explanatory. A player has a day (more or less) to respond; if players do not respond in the alloted time, they have dropped the football. If the player is unable to access the computer for a lengthened period of time, the player may request permission from Mr. Dictator not to be penalized for any time restraints.


When The Universe is in order, one may not post on the board except to get Mr. Dictator's attention, which would be done by posting ::raising a hand:: or some equivalent of that. Mr. Dictator will then ask what said player has to say, and the player shall respond. All rules for talking in actual Silent Football apply in the online version; however, more rules are added, including Penance Points being awarded for poor grammar, typos, and netspeak. If no Penance Points are able to be awarded, heinous crimes will broaden (i.e., only posting when the minutes are an odd number, or penalizing by length of the inquiry). However, Mr. Dictator may not inform The Universe of these new heinous crimes until a heinous crime is committed.

Many thanks to Christine for this wonderful idea and rules.