I Hate the Stupid Football Chain

The chain sucks

Seriously, WTF is up with the completely antiquated chain measuring system in football? It’s 2007 people – not 1937. Can’t we come up with a better technology than guessing where to start the chain and then seeing if the first down was made or not? How about a GPS in the ball? That doesn’t sound so hard in this day and age, does it? I fucking HATE the chain! It’s just so ridiculous.

Here’s a little history lesson on the Chain, courtesy of that wonderful tome of semi-correct knowledge, Wikipedia:

In American football, the chain crew (commonly known as the “chain gang”) are assistants to the referee who handle the first down measuring chain and the down indicator box. The members of the chain crew who operate the measuring chain are called rod men and the person who works the down indicator box is called the box man.

The down indicator box is a pole with a sign indicating what the current down is. Before every play from scrimmage, it is placed on the sideline to mark the current line of scrimmage.

The first down measuring chain is used to measure the yards that the offensive team needs to gain a first down. It is a 10-yard metal chain with poles attached to each end. The poles, usually called “the sticks”, are almost always covered in bright orange padding.

When a team gains a first down, one of the rod men places one end of the chain on the sideline parallel to the spot of the ball. The other rod man then stretches the chain out to mark the first down line. To ensure an accurate measurement, a clip is usually attached to the chain on the closest 5-yard mark on the field.

The chains will be brought directly onto the field whenever the referee needs an accurate measurement to determine if a first down has been made. A team may also request an accurate measurement to determine how far they have to reach for the first down.

I love how the word “accurate” is in here mutliple times. It’s not accurate! It’s a damn GUESS. The Chain Crew must have a powerful union or something and refuse to be replaced with GPS devices. Kind of like the robots and car assembly lines.


5 thoughts on “I Hate the Stupid Football Chain

  1. Well, as long as yer getting all technological, how about specially coated baseballs that will register when they cross home plate, coupled with a 3D strike zone hologram that adjusts to each batter? The technology ought to be pretty simple. I guess you’d still have to have a home plate umpire (union, you know…), but might at least remove some of the guesswork and randomness associated with calling balls and strilkes.

  2. Well, I get your point that it’s “part of the game.” If that’s the case, then get rid of the audio for the quarterbacks, and instant replay.
    I just go crazy when I see them bring out the silly chain and they Chain Gang acts like it’s all so serious, when in reality it’s about as accurate as throwing a snotty rag in the air and seeing where it lands.
    (Yes, I have been hurt by the Chain.)

  3. i agree the chain gain do get in the way in most of the time they give a bad spot of the ball carrier anyway i am a firm believer they should get rid of it

  4. You do realize that GPS’s highest resolution is a couple meters, so even if you did have GPS-enabled balls, it wouldn’t do a better job than an eyeball. Personally, I think getting out the chain is rather arbitrary. The starting and ending point of the ball has an error of several feet, depending how much the player slid on the ground or moved the ball after they were down. The chain crew sorta line up the chain with the first down, but it is by no means accurate to within a couple inches. The ref may move the ball or the ball may be recentered. And yet when it all comes down to it, when you’re on fourth down and the ball is just two inches shy of a first down, you’ll realize how incredibly arbitrary everything is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s