College Aims to Improve Football Goalpost Safety

An engineering professor is working on a new design for football goalposts that would seek to prevent fans from climbing on them.

The new plan comes in response to an injury caused by a falling goal post at the Yale Game last November Margaret M. Cimino '87 suffered massive head injuries when she was struck by a goal post which snapped under the weight of climbing spectators.

Myron B. Fiering '55, Gordon McKay Professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics is studying the possibility of a "telescoping" goalpost which officials could lower into the ground at the end of a game.

"In some way the goalpost would collapse like an auto antenna," Fiering said yesterday. But he added that the new goalpost would have to have some sort of locking device which would prevent it from collapsing at the wrong time.

Fiering's proposal is one of several that has been discussed by the Faculty Standing Committee on Athletics.

Director of Athletics John P. Reardon, Jr. '60 will make the final decision on which method to use, according to Richard J. Hemnstein, professor of Psychology and chairman of the committee Reardon could not be reached for comment last night.

Other possible devices include greasing the goalposts, constructing a barrier around them, providing more police protection, and making announcements that it is illegal to destroy goalposts.

The Undergraduate Council submitted the last three suggestions to the committee in a recent report.

"This is not a definite solution," said David C. Finn '86, the author of the report, adding. "It's a set of solutions that should be tested."

Finn said that the council had earlier discussed the possibility of collapsing goalposts, but rejected the idea for his report because of its expense.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of collegiate athletics, will have to approve any new goalpost design, committee members said. Fiering noted that there are no regulations specifying the design of goalposts, except for rules governing the height of the crossbar above the ground.

A licensed Massachusetts civil engineer, Fiering has designed dams and bridges in his 30 year career.

The problem with the current goalpost structure is that "a student can crawl out onto the crossbar and create a large torque," said Frederick H. Abernathy, Gordon McKay Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

But committee members said that it could be months before it approves a final plan. The telescoping device, according to Abernathy, would have to be tested against the possibility that water would fill the "sleeves" of the posts in the ground.

"One would at least have to wait until the frost is out of the ground," Fiering said.