To those who have never played the game of football, but who chance to open the covers of this book, a short explanation of the divisions and duties of the players will not be out of place. For these this chapter is added.
The game is played by two teams, of eleven men each, upon a field 330 feet long and 160 feet wide, at either end of which are goal-posts with a cross-bar.
The ball, which is like a large leather egg, is placed in the centre of this field, and each team endeavors to drive it in the direction of the opponents' goal-line, where any scoring must be done. Goals and touch-downs are the only points which count, and these can be made only as follows :
A goal can be obtained by kicking the ball in any way except a punt (a certain kind of kick where the ball is dropped by a player and kicked before touching the ground) over the cross-bar of the op-ponents'goal. A touch-down is obtained by touching the ball to the ground behind the line of the goal. So, in either case, the ball must cross the end of the field in some way to make any score. The sole object, then, of all the struggles which take place in the field is to advance the ball to a position such that scoring is possible. A firm grasp of this idea usually simplifies matters very much for the casual spectator.
The object of the white lines which cross the field at every five yards is merely to assist the referee in determining how far the ball moves at a time; for there is a rule which states that a team must advance the ball five yards in three attempts or retreat with it twenty. If they do not succeed in doing this, the other side take possession of the ball, and in their turn try to advance it.
R. M. Appleton. Harvard.
There are certain rules which govern the methods of making these advances, any infringement of which constitutes what is called a foul and entails a penalty upon the side making it.
Any player can run with the ball or kick it if, when he receives it, he is "on side" -that is, between the ball and his own goal-line. He may not take the ball if he is "off side" - that is, be-tween the ball and his opponents' goal-line - until an adversary has touched the ball.
Whenever a player running with the ball is held, he must cry "down," and a man of his side then places the ball on the ground and snaps it back. This puts it in play, and is called a scrimmage, and this scrimmage is the most commonly recurring feature of the game.
For the purposes of advancing the ball or repelling the attack of the opponents it has proved advisable for a captain to divide his eleven men into two general divisions: the forwards and backs. The forwards, of whom there are seven, are usually called rushers, and they make practically a straight line across the field when the ball is put in play on a "down" Next behind them is the quarter-back, who does the passing of the ball to one or another of the players, while just behind him are the two half-backs and the back, usually in something of a triangle in arrangement, with the last named nearest the goal which his team is defending.
The following definitions will also aid the spectator in understanding many of the expressions used by the devotees of the sport:
A drop-kick is made by letting the ball fall from the hands, and kicking it at the very instant it rises.
A place-kick is made by kicking the ball after it has been placed on the ground.
A punt is made by letting the ball fall from the hands, and kicking it before it touches the ground.
Kick-off is a place-kick from the centre of the field of play.
Kick-out is a drop-kick, or place-kick, by a player of the side which has touched the ball down in their own goal, or into whose touch-in-goal the ball has gone.
In touch means out of bounds.
A fair is putting the ball in play, from touch.
A foul is any violation of a rule.
A touch-dmvn is made when the ball is carried, kicked, or passed across the goal-line and there held, either in goal or touch-in-goal.
A safety is made when a player, guarding his goal, receives the ball from a player of his own side, and touches it down behind his goal-line, or carries the ball across his own goal-line and touches it down, or puts the ball into his own touch-in-goal.
A touch-back is made when a player touches the ball to the ground behind his own goal, the impetus which sent the ball across the line having been received from an opponent.
A fair catch is a catch made direct from a kick by one of the opponents, provided the catcher made a mark with his heel at the spot where he made the catch.
Interference is using the hands or arms in any way to obstruct or hold a player who has not the ball.
The penalty for fouls and violation of rules, except otherwise provided, is a down for the other side; or, if the side making the foul has not the ball, five yards to the opponents.
The following is the value of each point in the scoring:
Goal obtained by touch-down, . 6
Goal from field kick, .... 5
Touch-down failing goal, ............... 4
Safety by opponents, .... 2
The rules which bear most directly upon the play are:
The time of a game is an hour and a half, each side playing forty-five minutes from each goal. There is ten minutes' intermission between the two halves, and the game is decided by the score of even halves.
The ball is kicked off at the beginning of each half; and whenever a goal has been obtained, the side which has lost it shall kick off.
A player may throw or pass the ball in any direction except towards opponents' goal. If the ball be batted or thrown forward, it shall go down on the spot to opponents.
If a player having the ball be tackled and the ball fairly held, the man so tackling shall cry "held," the one so tackled must cry "down," and some player of his side put it down for a scrimmage. If, in three consecutive fairs and downs, unless the ball cross the goal-line, a team shall not have advanced the ball five or taken it back twenty yards, it shall go to the opponents on spot of fourth.
If the ball goes into touch, whether it bounds back or not, a player on the side which touches it down must bring it to the spot where the line was crossed, and there either bound the ball in the field of play, or touch it in with both hands, at right angles to the touch-line, and then run with it, kick it, or throw it back ; or throw it out at right angles to the touch-line; or walk out with it at right angles to touch-line, any distance not less than five nor more than fifteen yards, and there put it down.
A side which has made a touch-down in their opponents' goal must try at goal.