LOCATING THE CHAINS. I have always thought that there is an arbitrariness to bringing out the chains at a football game to determine whether the team with the ball has picked up the ten yards necessary for the first down. If the ball is short of a first down, the officials hold the chain with their fingers to make sure that the end of the chain is placed back in the correct spot. But what about the beginning of the series of downs? I always thought it was placed arbitrarily—or by rough guess—and I was watching a game last Sunday (December 21) which illustrated this. Toward the end of the first half, Philadelphia took the ball at its own 20 because of a touchback. After the third down, the ball was spotted just short of the 30 yard line. There was a measurement, and the ball was beyond the end of the chain. The officials and the announcers accepted that this would be a first down, even though as a matter of arithmetic, it couldn’t have been a first down. Either the initial spot of the chains was wrong, the chains weren’t ten yards long or the distance between the 20 yard line and the 30 yard line was not ten yards.

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  1. Pingback: LOCATING THE CHAINS (REVISITED). | Pater Familias

  2. Stan says:

    The chains are verified to be exactly 10 yds before each game. There’s not a single field I’ve ever been on that is marked off EXACTLY right. It is…..what it is.

  3. Pingback: IT’S THE FIELD, NOT THE CHAINS (COMMENT). | Pater Familias

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