This is #31 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
Rule #31 is straightforward but prepares us for Rule #31, which is among the longest and most complicated of the 61 IFA rules.
Rule 31: Touch. If a ball goes into touch, the first player on his side who touches it down must bring it to the spot where it crossed the touch-line; or if a player when running with the ball cross or put any part of either foot across the touch-line, he must return with the ball to the spot where the line was so crossed and thence return into the field of play in one of the modes provided by the following rule.
The first sentence of the rule mentions the player touching the ball down when it went into goes. However, as discussed in a recent Tidbit unrelated to the IFA rules, the ball remained live when it went into touch until a player touched the ball down. From that point, the player who touched the ball down brought it back to the spot where it crossed the touch or sideline. From that spot, he could choose one of five options to get the ball back into play. A modified version of one of those options remains part of the game today, while the others were removed and will be covered next week.
Since this week's Tidbit is short, and some might call it unexciting, we offer the following bonus content as a substitute. Below is a diagram of the Canadian football field from a 1959 Big Four Schedule. (The Big Four included the Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Redblacks, Montreal Alouettes, and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the second year of CFL play.)
To the right of either end zone is a label "Touch-In Goal Line," which describes the out-of-bounds line between the goal line and the dead ball line (end line in American football.) American football has not needed a unique name for that part of the sideline since we eliminated the puntout in 1920. However, Canadian football retained a separate name for that portion of the sideline because one method of scoring a rouge was for a kicked ball to fly or bounce over those lines. The lines are now called the "Sideline in Goal" rather than the "Touch-In Goal Line."
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
Subscribe for free and never miss a story. Support this site with a paid subscription, buy me a coffee (or two), or buy a book or a blog-used item.