This is an article take from a Football Program of the game played November 23, 1900 between the University of Iowa and Northwestern University. The game was played in Rock Island Ill. A copy of this program was donated to the University of Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame by John H. Brockway. The article was copied as it was written.

Description of Football

For Persons Unacquainted with the Game


Football is played on a field 330 feet long an 160 feet wide., enclosed by white lines and usually crossed by other white lines 5 yards apart; the latter are merely for the purpose of aiding the officials in determining distances. The shorter of the outside lines are the goal line, and in the middle of these are the goal posts. 18 1/2 feet apart, with a cross bar 10 feet above the ground.

A team is composed of 11 men - 7  line men or rushers, and 4 backs - named according to the position which they occuy in the line, or back of it - left end, left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, right tackle, right end, quarter back, left half-back, right half-back and full-back.

The game which consists of two halves of 35 minutes each, with a rest of 10 minutes between, is a struggle between the two teams to get the ball from the middle of the field over the goal line, and is begun by one side kicking the ball toward the other, by one of whose players it will probably be caught. This man, protected by his fellows, will run as far forward as possible, and when he can go no further he will yell "down". The two teams will then range themselves opposite each other; the ball will be held on the ground by the centre of the side of whom it temporarily belongs, until he hears a signal from the captain (usually a string of figures, one or two of which indicate what is to be done, the superfluous ones being to hide the signal form the other team), when he will throw it, or "snap" as it is technically called, to the quarter-back, who will pass it to another player.  As soon as the ball leaves the center's hands, the eleven to whom it belongs immediately evolve themselves into a certain formation, and rush as fast as they can at the point of attack called for by the signal. The other side endeavors to break up the formation and to catch the man carrying the ball. The mix-up is called a scrimmage. As before stated, when the player carrying the ball can go no farther, he calls "down" and the teams line up for another scrimmage.

The formation varies according to the part of the lines attacked and the players receiving the ball for a run or a kick. All the player, except the center and the quarter-back, can run with the ball from a scrimmage. Each play is directed at one of the spaces between the rushes, or outside the end men. A good team will have 30 - 45 different plays with a signal for each play. The side having possession of the ball must advance it 5 or retreat with it 20 yards in three trials, or surrender it to its opponents.

The team which has possession of the ball are not allowed to catch hold of their opponents with their hands; if any one does this it is holding, and the team surrenders the ball as a penalty. The members of the other team may use their hands. The head, shoulders or hip is used when the hands are not allowed. When the teams face each other for a scrimmage, if anyone steps over an imaginary line drawn through the centre of the ball and between the two teams, he is off side, and this is punished by surrendering the ball, or losing several yards, according to which side transgressed. Penalties are also inflicted for various other things which can be found fully explained in the rules.

When the ball is carried by one team over its opponent's goal line, the result is called a touchdown, and counts five points. The winners bring the ball back into the field as far as they wish, and try to kick it over the cross bar and between the goal posts. If this is done the result is goal, which counts one point more.

If the ball is dropped on the ground and then kicked over the cross bar and between the goal posts during the play, the result is a goal from field, and counts five points.

When the ball is held on the ground by one player and kicked by another of the same side it is called a place kick. If the ball goes over the bar and between the goal post  it count five points.

A safety is made by the side which has possession of the ball touching it down behind their own goal line, to prevent opponents doing so and counts two points for the opponents.

The officials are a referee, an umpire, two or more timers, and two linemen. The referee is the chief official, and has charge of all matters pertaining to the ball; he decides to which side the ball belongs, how many yards have been gained or lost and when points have been made. The umpire watches the men for offenses against the rules and inflicts penalties for such violations as he sees. The timekeepers keep the time; allowances are made for all stoppages. The linesmen follow the ball with their five -yard chains at the direction of the referee, and enable him to determine distance accurately.


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