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In the late Twenties there was widespread complaining from the football fans in the bleachers that they were unable to comprehend as to why a play was called-off by the referee; and so the Wise Old Men of Football decided that action had to be taken to remedy the confusion...

"Hence a system of signals has been devised whereby the officials on the field can let the people in the stand know what is what. A gesture of the arm by the field official will immediately telegraph to the stands that Whoozis College's penalty was for slugging. Another wave will inform the inquisitive public that the forward pass was incomplete by being grounded."

The article is illustrated with eight photographs of assorted football penalty hand signals; none of the gestures have stood the test of time - the penalties have remained but today different signals indicate each infraction.

Click here to read more articles from the 20s and 30s about football.

Read an article
about the origins of the Green Bay Packers

     


The Very First Football Referee Hand Signals (Literary Digest, 1929)

The Very First Football Referee Hand Signals (Literary Digest, 1929)

The Very First Football Referee Hand Signals (Literary Digest, 1929)

The Very First Football Referee Hand Signals (Literary Digest, 1929)

The Very First Football Referee Hand Signals (Literary Digest, 1929)

The Very First Football Referee Hand Signals (Literary Digest, 1929)

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