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Discussion of New Football Rules.


In the few football games that have been played here this fall there has been but little opportunity to judge of the effect of the recent changes in the rules. As the season progresses, however, and the attention of the coaches is directed more especially to the development of team play, the effect of the changes will become more apparent.

At present, some of the new rules can be discussed only with reference to probability, as their full force has not yet been tested. Of the rules which find more frequent application, the one allowing only four men back of the line when within 25 yards of the opponent's goal would seem to have the most far-reaching effect. As intended, this rule has served to make the play more open and to prevent the continuous pounding of mass plays into the line which has in past years been so wearing on the players and monotonous to the spectators. From the latter's view-point the game should be greatly improved if this rule develops the anticipated result, that when strong defenses are encountered by the four-man attack, a kicking game, with the usual opportunities for spectacular runs in a broken field, will be resorted to. Another provision of the rules which tends toward the improvement of the sport is that permitting the first person to whom the center passes the ball to run with it, thus giving more encouragement to trick plays than has been the case for many years.

The penalties for fouls have in general been made more severe and the likelihood of applying them has been increased by the investing of powers practically equal to those of the umpire and the referee in a third official called lineman. His duty is to stand on the side-line and assist the regular officials in detecting and penalizing fouls, such as tripping and off-side play. The increased penalties were intended to eliminate roughness as much as possible,--and this result should be achieved through such provisions as those which prevent interference with a man who is punting or making a fair catch of a punt,--but as experience has shown, the new rules bring no relief to the runner, for he is forced to hit the line as fast as ever, but without the protection afforded by the fifth man allowed under the old rules. One notable feature of the new rules is that all penalties are now provided for without involving the loss of the ball.

The changes in the rules mentioned above relate principally to the style of play; the few remaining changes are of minor importance and include such provisions as those allowing the side scored upon the choice of kicking off or receiving the kick-off, and prohibiting the presence of metallic or hard substance in head-gear or other wearing apparel.

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