(Football) Field of Dreams

Spend 5 minutes on Pinterest searching for football party foods and you could surmise that the football field was designed with the sole purpose of being replicated in the form of a chip dip.


Picture from Beaux & Belles blog. Click here for link to these tasty recipes. 

Everyone loves a good guac field, but trust me, the football field is good for more than just inspiring your game time snacks.

The football field we are going to talk about today is the NFL’s regulation field. (The CFL (Canadian Football League) and college football fields are a little bit different.)

OK, here are your fast (boring) facts that I have to give you:

The field is 120 yards (360 feet) long and 53.5 yards (160 feet) wide. Each end zone is 10 feet deep. The mid-point of the field is the 50 yard line. Every 10 yards is marked off by large numbers. Every 5 yards is marked off by a solid line that runs across the field. There are hash marks on the field in 1 yard increments.  (The ball is always brought back to the hash marks at the start of a new play.) Pylons stand at each corner of the end zone. They are strong enough to stand up straight, but flexible enough not to hurt a player that lands on top of them. (A set of 4 pylons will run you about 50 bucks on Amazon…who knew?) BOOYAH.

 football field diagram

Image from How Stuff Works

Goal posts are centered at the back of the end zone. The 18 foot cross-bar is 10 feet high and the upright posts go up 30 feet, scratch that, 35 feet (see note below for explanation) in the air. The little orange flags on top of the goal posts help the kickers by showing wind speed and direction. HI-YAH.

goal post

Jimmy Graham, a very talented tight end for the Saints, is known for celebrating his touchdowns with a slam dunk over the goal post.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at New York Jets

Image from Dallas News

Or should I say, used to be known for, as that sort of celebration will incur a penalty starting with the 2014 season. Players have been celebrating this way for a while and it generally wasn’t a problem until this happened last year:

goal post meme

Image from The Macho Sports Report

Way to ruin the fun for the rest of us, Jimmy.

In all seriousness, this rule doesn’t surprise me. The game is already long enough, no need to cause delays when posts are bent and need to be fixed. Besides, not like I could slam dunk over the goal post anyway.

OK, now that all of that is out of the way, let’s talk fun facts about the field. (I bet you didn’t know you could have fun facts about a patch of grass. Well, I am here to prove you wrong!)

– There are very precise measurements for the size of the numbers on the field. However, the font isn’t standardized.

– NFL fields must be green. With the advent of AstroTurf, stadiums technically had the ability to change the turf color, but the NFL put the kibosh on this in 2011, mostly to preempt any marketing strategies that would involve changing the color of the field. (Plus, who could look at an orange Discover card field and not want to rip their eyeballs out? Bad enough that Smurf Turf exists.)

–  At their 2014 annual meeting, NFL team owners voted to extend the uprights of the goal posts to 35 feet instead of 30 feet. Why? Sometimes when a kick goes really high and passes right over the goal post it can be hard to tell if it’s “in” or “out.” It’s hard to review because of camera angles and pretty impossible for refs to see on the field, so this is a common sense sort of change. Here’s a short fun article from the Washington Post explaining why raising the height of the goal posts isn’t quite as easy-peasy as you would think.

– NFL goal posts used to look like an “H”, but they changed the design because players kept running into the two posts. Ouch. You see the two post goal posts on many high school and college football fields, but not with the NFL.

So why is this stuff important? I can think of a few reasons…

– Knowing how deep the end-zone is helps explain how the distance of a field goal is measured. (More on this coming in another post.)

– A chip dip with an accurate field representation tastes and looks better than one that is inaccurate.

I read this article so you wouldn’t have to. 

– Michelle


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