the study of the kicking components within sports

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Goal Posts Post

goal [gohl] –noun
the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end

post (pōst) -noun
a long piece of wood or other material set upright into the ground to serve as a marker or support

The football is the dynamic element throughout a kick, passing from the long snapper's hands to the holder's hands to the the kicker's foot and then traveling through the air. At the end of its flight are the static goal posts - a sometimes daunting target of fixed size (despite what perceptions may suggest). While kickers' success rates do not directly alter the size of a goal post, they do factor into the history of changes in the locations of the posts.

1933 Goal posts were moved from the end lines to the goal lines in an effort to increase scoring.

1966 Goal posts offset from the goal line, painted bright yellow, and with uprights 20 feet above the crossbar were made standard in the NFL.

1967 "sling-shot" goal posts (with one curved support from the ground) were made standard in the NFL.

1974 The goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines and the uprights would be extended to 30 feet above the crossbar in an effort to decrease the number of field goals.

2005 The NFL granted a special exception to New Orleans for the year, allowing them to use offset goalposts in addition to the league standard slingshot goalposts… this was necessitated when they had to play some of their home games at LSU following Hurricane Katrina.

2008 Field goal attempts that bounce off the goal post became reviewable under instant replay (courtesy of the previous season’s game tying FG by Phil Dawson for Cleveland against Baltimore).

Of those changes, the sling-shot design was probably the the most significant. Since the ancient Chinese had first used two bamboo poles in their game of Tsu Chu (or Cuju), goal post design remained essentially unchanged for 4000 years - two posts with either netting or a cross bar strung between them, depending on one's game of choice. That finally changed after Joel Rottman was contemplating his silverware:
"I was having lunch eating a steak in the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal with then Alouettes coach Jim Trimble and Jack Rabinovich, who originated skateboards in Canada.They were talking skateboards, and I was mad I couldn't get a word in about the football team. I had a fork in my hand, turned to Jim, and said, 'Did you ever hear of a one-legged goal post?' He said, 'Are you crazy?' ''
After having developed a prototype successfully utilized in the Orange Bowl, Rottman proceeded to sell his invention the the NFL:
"There was a fellow in the lobby with these orange pylons, but [commissioner Pete] Rozelle wanted to see the goal-post guy first. He said, 'Oh, God, we've had a committee working on this thing for three years and want to put it back from the goal line to the end line. You show me a picture with 20-foot uprights instead of 10 and I'll give you a list of all the owner's names.' ''

4 comments:

lgruben said...

I never really gave much thought to the design of the goal post until this week. My fourth grade son had to design a costume based on a "structure" that has been invented that has impacted his life greatly. Most of the other students chose buildings. My son chose the "sling shot" goal post. We had some trouble finding information, but he persevered and now has the whole story. I sent him to school today with a sling shot field goal bolted to an old cowboys helmet, wearing a sign describing the invention. I teach seventh grade and I have told my students about it all morning--(they all saw him in the hall going to school). Nobody knew the story...until now!!!! I would post a picture but it won't work here.

Graham Coia said...

I've been saying for a while now, that it is time for the NFL to look at narrowing the width of the goalposts again. It would put the emphasis back onto skill and accuracy over the ability to hoof a ball reasonably straight but for 70yds.

Would you go as far as the Arena League at 9 feet wide? Personally I would (though I'd keep the lower NFL crossbar, as the outdoor field is longer).

Better that than banning place-kicking all together as is talked about every so often, as kickers become more and more skillful and are looked at as being automatic points inside the 45 yd distance.

Think it won't happen? - Check out the proposed XIFL (Xtreme Indoor Football League).

Paul Luchter said...

The NFL, following NCAA rules, as they did at first, had the goal posts on the goal line in their beginning. They moved them to the end line in 1927 after the NCAA rules moved them back those 10 yards. There were then complaints of too many ties, even 0-0 ones. So the NFL moved them back t the goal line in 1933. Don Hutson used the goal posts to screen out defenders, like we used to use a parked car when running patters playing as kids on the street.

By the way the reason the goal posts were on the goal line in the first place is because until 1911, the field was 110 yards long and there were no end zones.

There was a rule they should partially bring back. The conversion, the point after touchdown, had to be by placement when most kicks for field goals with the "blimp ball" were by drop kick. They could reverse this now and make XPs to be kicked by drop kicks. Another rule was that the ball was placed similarly back from the end zone line but across from where it crossed the goal line for the touchdown. This made for hard to hit angles, especially as the hash marks were very close to the side lines. These ideas could be resurrected. They all were dropped by the NCAA before the NFL began or close to it. In 1920. There was another rule. Instead of kicking the acute angles sometimes involved, you could use a punt out. This was a free kick to your own players to try and better center the ball. The kick would be further out but still was pretty easy (or as easy as successful placekicking was at that time), but if you botched the kick, the opponents could recover it and play resumed from that point in lieu of a kick-off. I wouldn't revive the punt-out.

Another rule had to do with limited substitution. The point-after kicker had to have been on the field when the TD was made. Replacing someone with a specialist was problematic due to substitution rules. Ken Strong, the first kicking specialist was a friend of Bell, the commissioner after the war. He had the rules relaxed so he could continue as a kicking specialist now that he could no longer play on the field well, due to age. So this rule, just for the EPs could be brought back. Kickers would complain and there might be fears of injuries to regulars forced to learn how to kick and perhaps get hurt....

Paul Luchter said...

correction:
...So the NFL moved them back to the goal line in 1933. Don Hutson used the goal posts to screen out defenders, like we used to use a parked car when running patterns playing as kids on the street....>

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