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Today's Tidbit... Three Things I Learned Today
This morning I read a master's thesis written in 1955 by Louis Voris at Eastern Illinois. A Guide to the Purchase of Football Equipment covers the cost and quality considerations related to purchasing football equipment and is a time capsule of football equipment in the mid-1950s. The time capsule taught me three things worth sharing with the football geeks that read these Tidbits.
First, I recently wrote about the history of white, yellow, and striped balls used for night games here and here. Those stories mentioned that the stripes painted on footballs proved slippery, resulting in either their elimination (NFL), removal from two of the four panels (NCAA), or acceptance (CFL). I did not know that the tanning process used to produce white and orange balls caused the balls to become slippery when wet (see Voris, p. 7), which likely contributed to the ultimate rejection of the yellow and white balls.
Second, before reading Voris' thesis, I had wondered why sporting goods catalogs of the 1940s and 1950s referred to some pads as blocking pads. I thought of them as flak jackets, like those worn by quarterbacks since the 1970s.
Voris revealed that players who regularly used the body blocking technique, as covered in this recent Tidbit, padded their torsos to avoid rib injuries (see Voris, p. 25).
Third, I knew the back rim of helmets had been padded and eventually raised to reduce the risk of injury when helmets were forced back onto the neck and spine. Still, I did not realize that the forehead rims also received padding to avoid injuries when helmets moved in the opposite direction, pressing down on the nose (see Voris, p. 31). Of course, four-point chin straps dramatically reduced both problems when they came on the scene in the 1970s.
So, that is what I learned this morning. What football Tidbit did you learn today?
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