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Today's Tidbit… 1876 IFA Rule #36: Kickoff
This is #36 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
Rule 36 was among those in which the IFA modified the existing Rugby Union rule, though it is unclear why they did so. The rule is quite simple:
Rule 36: Kick-off is a place kick from the center of the field, and cannot count as a goal. The opposite side must stand at least ten yards in front of the ball until it has been kicked. (If the ball pitch in touch it shall be brought back and kicked off again.)
The rule tells us the kickoff occurred from the center line or midfield on the 110-yard field. It remained until 1912 when football adopted a 100-yard long field, and the kickoff shifted to the kicking team’s 40-yard line.
The rule also says a kickoff is not a goal, even if it sails over the crossbar. In addition, the opposing team had to stand 10 yards back from midfield. Of course, the field did not yet have yard lines, so they estimated the 10-yard requirement, or the referee walked off the distance.
The bolded sentence in parentheses was part of rugby’s rules, but the IFA omitted it. The rule tells us that a kickoff that goes out of bounds has to be kicked again from the center line. Down the road, teams sometimes stalled by continually kicking the ball out of bounds and waiting for darkness to end the game before the clock ran out. That behavior ended when new rules penalized teams that kicked the ball out of bounds.
Click the appropriate link for previous stories in the series: Intro | #1 Drop Kick | #2 Place Kick | #3 Punt | #4 Goal Posts | #5 Goal | #6 Goal ≠ Punt | #7 Scoring | #8 Dead Ball | #9 Touchdown | #10 Tackle | #11 Scrimmage | #12 Ball Handling | #13 Dead Ball | #14 Scrimmage Ball Handling | #15 Run In | #16 Goal Line | #17 Boundary Lines | #18 Crying “Down” | #19 Maul In | #20 Maul in Pax | #21 Touch-in Goal | #22 Onside | #23 Offside | #24 Return to Onside | #25 Defensive Offside | #26 Throwing Back | #27 Knocking On | #28 Fair Catch | #29 Punt-out | #30 Punt-On | #31 Into Touch | #32 Inbounding | #33: Pushed Into Touch | #34: Right Angle Throw Out | #35: No Fair Catch
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