May 14, 2020
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They call them the chain gang. They wear stripes, but they're not prison inmates. They're football officials, and they carry this chain that measures whether or not a team has made a first down. Now not everyone is a football fan, so let me explain this. A team has four tries to move the ball ten yards. If they succeed, they get a "first down" and they get four more plays. If they fail, they have to turn the ball over to the other team at that point on the field. Many times it's impossible to tell with the naked eye if the ball has made it those ten yards, because it's very close. So they call out the chain gang. They come trotting out, they extend the chain to its full length, and then they set it down. If it extends beyond the ball, the team falls short. If it falls short, the team has succeeded. And as many who have played or watched football know, winning or losing a game can, like in moments like these, literally be a matter of inches no matter how far you've brought the ball.