When the kicker on your favorite NFL team misses a game-winning field goal, it’s easy to yell at the TV that such a field goal should be impossible to miss. From some angles, the goal posts look extremely wide — but when you’re on the field with the game in the balance
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, the opening between the two posts can appear tiny.
A goal post’s crossbar must sit 10 feet above the ground, according to NFL Rule Book. This is the same height as a basketball hoop, which is why some players, after scoring a touchdown, pretend to dunk the football over the crossbar as if showing off their basketball skills. NFL goal posts must measure 18 feet, 6 inches wide. The posts themselves must extend at least 30 feet above the crossbar.
In the early days of college football
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, in the mid- to late-1800s, the goal post was simply composed of two uprights planted in the ground. In 1876, a cross bar was added to give those early goal posts a “H” look. Not long after, goal posts were re-designed yet again to more closely resemble a “Y.” Goal posts also used to be located in the middle of the end zone with the crossbar and posts right along the goal line. In 1974, the goal posts were moved behind the end zones, with the cross bar and uprights on the same plane as the end line at the back of each end zone.
All NFL goal posts must be painted bright gold. Most college, high school and recreational leagues also have yellow or gold goal posts. In addition, at the top of each goal post, a sturdy ribbon 4 inches wide and 42 inches long must be affixed. The ribbons help the players and coaches gauge the speed and direction of the wind on kicks.
Goal posts in college also measure 18 feet, 6 inches wide, with crossbars that are 10 feet off the ground. In college and high school, however, the uprights only need to be 10 to 15 high above the crossbar. In addition, high school goal posts measure 23 feet, 4 inches wide, to encourage more scoring with a wider target at which to kick.