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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 625 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DIAGRAM OF FIELD The football rules provide that when the ball is put in play in a scrimmage, the first man who receives the ball, commonly known as the quarter-back, may carry it forward beyond the line of scrimmage, provided in so doing he crosses such line at least 5 yds. from the point where the snapper-back put the ball in play, and furthermore, that a forward pass may he made provided the ball passes over the line of scrimmage at least 5 yds. from the point at which the ball is put in play. The field is marked off at intervals of 5 yds. with white lines parallel to the goal line, for convenience in penalizing fouls and for measuring the to yds. to be gained in three downs, and also at intervals of 5 yds. with white lines parallel to the side lines, in order to assist the referee in determining whether the quarter-back runs according to rule, or whether, in case of a forward pass, such pass is legally made. Thus the football field is changed from the gridiron as in 1902, to what now resembles a checkerboard, and the above diagram shows exactly how the field should be marked. As the width of the field does not divide evenly into 5 yd. spaces, it is wise to run the first line through the middle point of the field and then to mark off the 5 yds. on each side from that middle line. In order to save labour, it may be sufficient to omit the full completion of the longitudinal lines, as the object of these lines is accomplished if their points of inter-section with the transverse lines are distinctly marked, for instance, by a line a foot long. proved an inadequate ptdteetion; and some players now wear a " head harness " of soft padded leather. Substitutes are allowed in the places of injured players. The object of the game is identical with that of English Rugby, and the rules in regard to fair catches, punting, drop-kicking, place-kicking, goal-kicking, passing and gentlemanly conduct are practically the same, except that, on a free kick after a fair catch, the opposing players in the American game may not come up to the mark but must keep to yds. in front of it. In the American game there is no scrtimmagein the English sense, nor is the ball thrown in at right angles after going into touch. The element of chance in both these methods of play was done away with by the enunciation of the principle of the " possession of the ball." In America, when the ball has gone out of bounds or a runner has been tackled and' held and the ball downed, the ball is also put into play by an evolution called a scrimmage, usually called " line-up," which beyond the Name bears no reserhbla-nce to the English scrummage. The ball, at every moment of the game, belongs theoretically either to one Side or to the other. It may be lost by a fumble, or by the side iii possession not being able to make the required distance of io yds. in three successive attempts or by a voluntary kick. In the line-up the seven line-men (i.e. forwards) face each other on a line parallel to tlfe goal= lines on the spot where it was ordered down by the referee. The ball is placed on the ground by the centre-rush; also called the snapper-back, who, upon the signal being given by his quarter; back, " snaps back" the ball to this player, or to the full-back, by a quick movement of the hand or foot. The moment the ball is snapped-back it is in play. In every scrimmage it is a foul for the side having the ball (attacking side) to obstruct an opponent except with the body (no use may be made of hands or arms); or for the defending side to interfere with the snap-back. The defenders may use their hands and arms ' only to get- their opponents out of the way in order to get at the man with the ball. Each member of the attacking side endeavours, of course, to prevent his opponents from breaking through and interfering with the quarter-back, who requires this protection from his line in order to have time to pass the ball to one of the backs, whom he has notified by a signal to be ready. In the United States a player may be obstructed by an off-side opponent so long as hands and arms are not used. In the line-up this is called " blocking-off " and " interference " when done to protect a friend running with the ball. Interference is one of the most important features of American football. As soon as the ball is passed to one of the half-backs for a run, for example, round one end of the line, his interference must form immediately. This means that one or more of his fellows must accompany and shield him as he runs, blocking off any opponent who trys to tackle him. The first duty of the defence against a hostile run is' therefore to break up the interference, i.e. put these defenders out of the play, so that the runner may be reached and tackled. The game begins by the captains tossing for choice of kick-off or goal. If the winner of the toss chooses the goal, on account of the direction of wind, the loser must kick off and send the ball at least io yds. into the opponents' territory from a place-kick from the 55 yds. line. The two ends of the kicking side, who are usually fast runners, get down the field after the ball as quickly as possible, in order to. prevent the man who catches the kick-off from running back with the ball. When the kick-off is caught, the catcher with the aid of interference runs it back as far as possible, and as soon as he is tackled, and held by his opponents the ball is down and a Iine-up takes place, the ball being in the possession of the catcher's side, which now attacks. In order to prevent the so-called block game," once prevalent, in which neither side made any appreciable progress, the rules provide that the side in possession of the ball must make at least ro yds. in three successive attempts, or, failing to do so, must surrender the ball to the. enemy, or, as it is called, " lose the ball on downs." This is infrequent in actual play, because if, after two unsuccessful attempts, or partly successful, it becomes evident that the chances of completing the obligatory to-yd. gain on the remaining attempt are unfavourable, a forwardpass or a kick is resorted to, rather than risk losing the ball on the spot. The kick, although resulting in the loss of the ball, nevertheless gives it to the enemy much nearer his goal. When the wind is strong the side favoured by it usually kicks often, as the other side, not being able to kick back on equal terms, is forced to play a rushing game, which is always exhausting. Again, the kicking game is often resorted to by the side that has the lead in the score, in order to save its men and yet retain the advantage. The only remaining way to advance the ball is on a free-kick after a fair catch, as in the English game. The free kick may be either a punt, a drop-kick or a kick from placement. Whenever the ball goes over the side line into touch it is brought back to the point where it crossed the line by the man who carried it over, or, if kicked or knocked over, by a man of the side which did not kick it out, and there put in play in one of two ways. Either it may be touched to the ground and then kicked at least to yds. towards the opponents' goal, or it may be taken into the field at right angles to the line a distance not less than 5 yds. nor more than 15, and there put down for a line-up, the player who takes it in first declaring how far he will go, so that the opposing team may not be caught napping. Of the seven men in the line, the centre is chosen for his weight and ability to handle the ball cleanly in snapping back. He must also, in case the full-back is to make the next play, be able to throw the ball from between his legs accurately into the full=back's hands, thus saving the time that would be wasted if the quarter-back were used as an intermediary. The two guards," who must also be heavy men, form with the centre the bulk of the line, protecting the backs in offence, and in de-fence blocking the enemy. The two " tackles " must be heavy yet active and aggressive men, as they must not only help the centre and guards in repelling assaults on the middle of the line, but also assist the ends in stopping runs round the line as well as those between tackle and end, a favourite point of attack. The " ends are chosen for their activity, sure tackling, fast running and ability to follow up the ball after a kick. Of the four players behind the line, the full-back must be a sure catcher and tackler and a fast runner, The two half-backs must also be fast runners and good dodgers. One of them is often chosen for his ability to gain ground by " bucking the line," i.e plunging through the opposing team's line. He must there-fore be over the average weight, while the other half-back is called upon to gain by running round the opposing ends. The quarter-back is the commanding general and' therefore the most important member of his side, as with him lies the choice of plays to be made when on the attack. Courage, coolness, promptness in decision and discrimination in the choice of plays are the qualities absolutely required for this position. As scion as his side obtains the ball, the quarter-back shouts out a signal, consisting of a series of numbers or letters, or both, which denotes a certain play that is to be carried through the moment the ball is snapped back. A good quarter-back thinks rapidly and shouts his signal for the next play as soon as a down has been called and while the scrimmage is forming, so that the plays are run off rapidly and the enemy is given as little time as possible to concentrate. The signals, which are secret and often changed to guard them from being solved by the enemy, are formed by designating every position and every space in the line, as well as kicks and other open plays, by a number or letter. Some signals are called sequence-signals, and indicate a prearranged series of plays for use in certain emergencies. Every manoeuvre of the attacking side is carried out by every member of the team, the ideal being " every man in every play every time." As soon as a signal is' given each man should know what part of the ensuing move will fall to him, in carrying the ball, interfering for the runner, or gets ting down the field under a punt. Every team has its own code. About 1890 the system of interference led to momentum and mass plays (wedge-formations, tandems, &c.), i.e. to the grouping of bodies of men behind the line, and starting them before the ball was snapped back, so that they struck the line with an acquired momentum that was extremely severe, particularly when met by men equally determined. These plays caused frequent injuries and led to legislation against them, the 'most important law providing for a limitation to the number of men who could be dropped back of the line, and practically keeping seven men drawn up in the line. Penalties are of three kinds: (r) forfeiture of the game; for refusing to play when directed to do so by the referee, and for repeated fouls made with the intention of delaying the game; (2) disqualification of players for unnecessary roughness or ungentlemanly conduct; and (3) for infringement of rules, for which certain distances are taken away from the previous gains of the side making the fouls. The game resolves itself into a series of scrimmages interspersed with runs and kicks. The systematized development of plays places at the disposal of the quarter an infinite variety of attack, which he seeks to direct at the opposing line with bewildering rapidity and dash. During the preliminary games of the season " straight football " is genetally played; that is, intricate attacks are avoided and kicks and simple plunges into the line are mainly relied upon. Trick plays,' which comprise all manoeuvres of an intricate nature, are reserved for later and more important matches. Among these is the " fake (false) kick," in which the full-back takes position as if to receive the ball for a kick, but the ball is passed to a different player for a run. Another play of this kind is the " wing-shift," in which some or all of the players on one side of centre suddenly change to the other side, thus forming a mass and throwing the opponents' line out of balance. To thts category belong also " double passes," " false passes," " delayed passes," " delayed runs " and " criss-crosses." Training for football in America resembles that for other sports in regard to food and hygiene. The coaching systems at the universities differ, but there is generally a head coach, who is assisted by graduates, each of whom pays especial attention to one set of men, one to the men in the centre of the line, one to the backs, another to the ends, &c. Candidates for the teams are put through a severe course of practice in catching punts and hard-thrown passes, in quick starts, falling on the ball, tackling a mechanical dummy, in blocking, breaking thtough the line, and all kinds of kicking, although in matches the kicking is generally left to one or two men who have shown themselves particularly expert. Every player is taught to dive for the ball whenever he sees it on the ground, as possession is of cardinal importance in American football, and dribbling for this reason is unknown. When running with the ball the player is taught to take short steps, to follow his interference, that is, not isolate himself from his defenders, and neither to slow up nor shut his eyes when striking the opposing line. Tackling well below the waist is taught, but it is a foul to tackle below the knee. The general rule for defensive work of all kinds is "play low." See Walter Camp, How to play Football, and the Official Football Guide (annual), both in Spalding 's Athletic Library; his Batik of College Sports (New York, 1893), h'is American Football (New York, 1894), and his Football (Boston, 1896)—the last in co-operation with L. F. Deland; R. H. Barbour, The Book of School and College Sports (New York, 1904) ; W. H. Lewis, Primer of College Football (Boston, 1896). (E. B.; W. CA.)
End of Article: DIAGRAM OF

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