19 September 2012

Metric American football

...the colleges of Carleton and St. Olaf held the first NCAA-sanctioned metric football game. The “Liter Bowl,” played on September 17, 1977, featured a gridiron measuring 100 meters (109.36 yards) long and 50 meters (54.68 yards) wide. The expanded dimensions favored St. Olaf’s outside running game. The Oles ended up winning the contest—which was supposed to be a game of centimeters—by a score of 43-0.
Text from the MN70s tumblr; image from the Carleton College digital archives.


  1. I've never understood how "a game of centimeters" can be that accurate when the referees occasionally determine if the required ten-yard advance has been met by manually placing the ball onto the ground and running into the middle of the field with a chain. It's one thing to see if (whichever point of) the ball is past the end of the chain, but it's another to ensure the other end of the chain is at the precise start of the ten yards. How does that work?

  2. The chains are marked with a little tag in the middle of the chain which lines up with an edge of one of the yardline markers. Thats why when they bring them onfield for a measurement, you'll notice the ref always Carries a small section of chain himself. Thats because he places the tag on the chain, the matches the tag placement to the yardline in the center of the field. This way the chains can insure an accurate measurement down to the cm. -Cam

  3. I was 10, and present at that game. The most remarkable thing (to my 10-year old mind) was just how unremarkable it turned out to be. Don't really know what I had been expecting, but it seemed like a typical Carleton football game, especially the score.


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