Those who watch a lot of football games likely have encountered an occasional problem with the first-down sideline chain markers.
Those markers consist of two tallish orange poles attached at the bottom by a 10-yard length of chain that keeps track, and measures if needed, the distance for first downs.
Sometimes those chains might break or don’t work correctly during contests and have to be fixed on the spot. If that occurs, sometimes a fix can take a while.
A breakage occurred the night of Jan. 21 during an NFL playoff game, then again in Jan. 29 other postseason action. The fix took about 10 minutes in the first instance, about half that time Jan. 29. Each annoyingly delaying the action on the field while the repairs were figured out.
The same thing happened, sort of, during a couple of varsity high-school football games in recent years.
In one situation, the chain broke and couldn’t be fixed quickly at all. So a backup set of chains had to be retrieved from the school, some 300 yards away. The whole replacement process took about 20 minutes, with the game being delayed and the players eventually allowed about five minutes to quckly warm up again.
In another high-school contest, the action was delayed right after the opening kickoff. It was discovered the chains weren’t broken, but for some reason the setup was only eight yards long instead of the required 10. There was never any explanation regarding why the length of the chain was two yards short.
No first downs on any level of football are eight yards, longer sometimes in yuth ball. but not eight yards. That was a mystery never solved.
So, again, a backup and correct set had to be retrieved, then fastened together once found. That process also took a while, as well, again delaying the action.