Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Chains

I was sitting in a local restaurant at the bar and ordered takeout for the family. On the TV in the bar was the Purdue-Arizona St. non-important bowl game. Out came the chains for a measurement.

The chains are probably one of the very few relics left over from the golden age of football. They represent the actual 10 yard distance that a team has to reach to receive a first down, unless you are using these chains.

You have laser printers scanning photos on the field for quarterbacks and coaches calling plays from the pressbox over wireless equipment installed in the helmets of players. We also have instant replay, instant stats over computer systems and a myriad of other high tech items on the field at any given time. Yet when it comes time to decide if a team actually got a first down, out trundle two guys with posts and a chain hooking them together. To add to the low tech insult, if you watch, the guy holding the chain has to pass it off to an official as the official is certainly more qualified to do the measuring.

What's worse is that the whole system is kind of "ball-parked" as far as placing the ball goes. After kickoff, a guy gets tackled and the official comes in and says you fell "here" and puts the ball down. Then the chain gang on the sidelines estimates where the nose of the football is and puts the chans down "here". Then you have three plays where the ball is estimated to be down "here". OK, now it is fourth down and time for a measurement. We have now had FOUR random placements of the ball and ONE random placement of the chains for a total of FIVE random placements.

But for the measurement we now have this FIXED RIGID ten yard length to measure by, trundling out on the field. Has anyone in the NFL heard of lasers? GPS?

Something unrelated, but equally annoying is the practice of the umpire not calling touchdown. You have seen it a million times. First and goal from the one, the running back runs right up the middle and we have to wait 10 or 20 seconds for the ref from the SIDELINE run into the pile and declare touchdown, while the umpire, who is standing RIGHT THERE can't seem to be able to make that call.

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