Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Gospel According to Epler

Chester's First Six
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
The following excerpt is from Stephen Epler's book titled Six-Man Football: The Streamlined Game. Published by Harper & Brothers Publishers in 1938. When I was reading this to myself the other day, I felt as though I should be standing before a congregation of football disciples...

The Beginnings of Six-man Football

Six-man football can best be explained to the person familiar with the eleven-man game as the usual football played by two teams that play without tackles and guards, and are short the services of one halfback. A six-man team is composed of two ends, a center, quarterback, halfback, and fullback. Six-man football is not a pass and touch game. Tackling and blocking as well as kicking, passing, and running with the ball are integral elements of the game.

A casual observer at a six-man game would notice little difference between the two types of football except the smaller number of players. A more careful observer would soon discern other differences. He would not only observe that there are fewer players, but that the field is smaller. He would notice that all the players are allowed to catch forward passes and that more players handle the ball. He would find it much easier to see what each player is doing and he could easily observe the movement of the ball. He would notice that this is a more open game and that every running play includes at least one lateral or backward pass. He would discover that there are few pile-ups and fewer injuries. The increased amount of scoring and the fast-moving play would hold his attention.

Six-man football is primarily a player's game and only incidentally a spectator's game. Players become enthusiastic about six-man because they are allowed to carry the ball, catch passes, and handle laterals. Every member of the team must be an all-around player skilled in ball handling, pass receiving, and pass throwing as well as in blocking and tackling. The freedom from injuries and the open play increase their zest.

—Stephen Epler, 1938

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