be given the ball on the previous play

Hello everyone,
that's about American football. What is meant by I'd been given the ball on the previous match in the following context (JD Vance, "Hillbilly Elegy")?
During one of my second-grade football games, a tall, overweight mother muttered about why I had been given the ball on the previous play. Mom, a bleacher row behind the woman, overheard the comment and told her that I'd been given the ball because, unlike her child, I wasn't a fat piece of shit who'd been raised by a fat piece-of-shit mother.
Why does the remark of the 'fat woman' upset Mom? Is there any reason or could there be any reason for being upset?

Any help is much appreciated:)
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  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The woman sitting behind Vance's mother was complaining because she thought Vance was being unfairly favored. Vance's mother didn't like the idea that Vance had been given the ball unfairly. She thought that Vance deserved to be given the ball.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Unlike soccer, every play is pre-determined in regards to who will possess the ball. On most plays, only three people ever touch it. There is a person who picks it up from the ground (who touches it very briefly), there is a quarterback he gives it to, who is responsible for getting it to someone else, and there is the "someone else" whose job it is to at least try to score (or the quarterback can be the "someone else" if he keeps the ball). There are 11 players on each side but the only people who in the usual circumstances have a chance to score on any play are the quarterback and the "someone else".

    So those are prestige positions. You get the most glory from scoring or at least having the ball and having the potential to score. So when it says he was "given the ball", it means he was the "someone else" on that play. He was selected to be handed the ball by the quarterback and expected to run toward the goal, and possibly score. The other mother is mad because her son was not given that prestige role. Instead, he was one of the more anonymous players that don't get the glory even though they are performing important roles helping the team as a whole. Every parent wants their child to have the chance to be a star. The other boy's mother thought he was being denied that chance. JD's mother was defending JD from the insinuation that he didn't deserve that prestige role.
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    Most interesting :thumbsup: You give me lots of information about American football and to understand the context of the situation at hand. Thank you ever so much for this great reply:) and thank you very much indeed, all of you:thank you::thank you::thank you:
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    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    I'd been given the ball on the previous match
    Note that "play" is not "match". An entire "game" ("match", in your terms) consists of many "plays": maybe 50 or 100. So the mother was complaining about the last "play", not yesterday's game.

    American Football is not non-stop, like basketball or rugby. Instead, it consists of a bunch of "plays" like volleyball or cricket. In between "plays", nobody is playing the game. They are just getting ready for the next play. But the time between plays is short (usually less than 30 seconds), so they must get ready quickly.