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Today's Tidbit... Football Before Points-Based Scoring
The 1882 Penn football team picture included a guy wearing a top hat, but that was not the weirdest thing about the season during which the Quakers finished with a 2-5 record. Looking back, the oddest thing about the season was that football used an equivalency-based scoring system borrowed from rugby in 1876. Rule 7 covered scoring
A match shall be decided by the majority of touchdowns; a goal shall be equal to four touchdowns; but in case of a tie, a goal kicked from a touchdown shall take precedence over four touchdowns.
To translate, the primary value of a touchdown was that it gave the scoring team a free kick at goal. (Goals after touchdowns were free kicks while goals from field or scrimmage were contested). A kicked goal was equal to four touchdowns, but if the game ended in a tie, the team kicking the greater number of goals was the victor.
Anyway, the scores of Penn's 1882 games follow:
So, it was a bit weird, but Walter Camp straightened out the process in 1883 by getting everyone to agree to the following points-based scoring system:
Touchdown - 2 points
Goal after Touchdown - 4 points
Goal from Field - 5 points
Safety - 1 point
The point values changed a few times to emphasize the value of touchdowns over kicked goals, but the game’s core scoring has been largely unchanged since 1912.
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