ANSWER GUY: WHY IS A FOOTBALL FIELD 100 YARDS?
Sowing the seeds of possibility in the garden of chance.
David Neft, co-editor, Total Football: Unlike basketball, football wasn't invented. It evolved over time as college kids adapted their own games, usually on rugby fields. So who invented rugby? Patrick Guthrie, co-author, Rugby for Dummies: Legend has it that in 1823, a kid named William Webb Ellis was playing soccer at the Rugby School in England. At one point, he picked up the ball and ran it into the goal, and a new sport was born. What, cheating? No, rugby. Ah. Kent Stephens, archives and collections manager, College Football Hall of Fame: When Rutgers played Princeton in the first so-called football game, there were 25 guys per side, they couldn't run with the ball, there were no touchdowns, no first downs, there was no line of scrimmage and no forward passing. It bore absolutely no resemblance to what we call football, and there were certainly no standards for the dimensions of the field. So where does the football part come in? In 1874, Harvard played Montreal's McGill University. That's really how it all started. Canadians? Incroyable! Perry Lefko, director of communications, CFL: At the time, McGill played a hybrid game with rules similar to rugby's, but Harvard played a game where you could score only by kicking goals. The two teams decided to play one game with Harvard's rules and one with McGill's. Harvard liked McGill's game so much, it introduced it to the Ivy League, and it took off from there. Go, team! So about those 100 yards& In 1881, a group of colleges standardized the field at 110 yards long and 53 yards wide, essentially the same as in rugby. And the 100 part? Kent Stephens: In 1905, 18 people were killed playing college football. It was extremely violent, with packs of players slamming into each other. Like rugby? Worse. The birth of modern football was really in 1906, when, in an effort to save the game, the forward pass was legalized and a neutral zone was created. Did anyone think of helmets? They also wanted to widen the field. But in 1903, Harvard had built the first permanent football stadium, and if the field was widened, it wouldn't have fit inside. Those Ivy League types really do call the shots. David Neft: In 1912, the NCAA decided to put in 10-yard end zones. But most big schools had built stadiums that wouldn't accommodate a 130-yard field, so they shortened the distance between the goal lines to 100 yards. So it all comes down to architecture? Basically. What a country!
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