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Sports NotebookSports Notebook: Broken sideline chains

Sports Notebook: Broken sideline chains

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Those who watch a lot of football games have likely encountered an occasion problem with the first-down sideline chain markers.

The markers consist of two tallish poles attached at the bottom by a 10-yard length of chain that keeps track, and measure if needed, the distance for first downs.

Sometimes the chain breaks or don’t work during contests and have to be fixed, and that can take a while. Such a breakage occurred the night of Jan. 21 during an NFL playoff game. And the fix took about 10 minutes, annoyingly delaying the action on the field.

The same thing happened, sort of, and were experienced during a couple of varsity high-school football games in recent years.


In one situation, the chain broke and couldn’t be fixed quickly. So a backup set had to be retrieved from the school, some 300 yards away. The whole replacement process took about 20 minutes, with the game being delayed.

In another game, the action was delayed right after the opening kickoff because it was discovered the chains weren’t broken, but for some reason the setup was only eight-yards long instead of the required 10. So, again, a backup and correct set had to be retrieved, then fastened together, and that process also took a while, as well, again delaying the action.

– Dave Facinoli


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