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Newest Football Rule Changes Will Not Dim Spectator Interest


This to the first of two articles explaining the football rule changes. The second article will appear tomorrow.

The football rules committee laid a relatively light hand on the rule book this summer. Of the 10 changes effected since last season, only eight can be considered of any importance. None of the eight alterations will make a great difference in actual play.

Most important switch eliminates the confusing and little-used fair catch signal. Heretofore, if a safety man thought that he had no chance of advancing with the ball after catching it, he could raise his arm, signifying to his opponents that he would not try to run the ball. This gave him immunity against being tackled and possibly fumbling. Now, the rules state that the receiver must be given an unmolested opportunity to make the catch, but he need not signal.

Another change gives each team five timeouts per half, instead of four. This amendment is in line with recent football trends toward freer substitutions and specialization. The new rule will enable a team to send in a punter, for example, for one play, without incurring a penalty for delaying the game.

Blockers and changing defensive linemen are restrained by two other rule changes. New, blockers are not allowed to block opponents above the shoulders. Injuries caused by abrupt contact between elbows and faces helped to hasten the switch.

Rough treatment of placekick holders caused the other rule shift. The place kicker has long been protected--by a 15-yard penalty--against roughing. Under the new rule, the holder gets the same protection.

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