Almost 40 years ago, college football went metric … well at least for the day.
On September 17, 1977, St. Olaf and Carleton College played in Northfield Minnesota at Laird Stadium in what is known as the only NCAA metric football game ever played, appropriately dubbed the Liter Bowl.
According to the MetricMaven.com,
“The game was proposed by Jerry Mohrig, a Chemistry Professor at Carleton College. This was precipitated by Jerry’s son, who noticed that sports such as swimming and track were going metric–perhaps a metric football game might be good. The NCAA had to grant permission for the game to take place–and did—after working out how to convert the statistics back to imperial. The major concern was that with a longer field, it was possible to have a runback for a touchdown that was longer than a non-metric field. The field was 100 meters long by 50 meters wide with 10 meter end zones.”
They went all out, complete with about 10,000 people in attendance (10 kilopeople in metric terms), a halftime honoring of General “Ulysses St. Gram,” skier “Jean-Claude Kilo,” and baseball legend “Harmon Kilogram,” and a program featuring the height and weight of every player in meters and kilograms.
In the end St. Olaf won 43-0, and out-gained Carleton 393 meters to 106. Interestingly, they were able to do so thanks to an “outside run game” which was possible in part because the field was 50 meters wide. That converts to 54.68 yards, over a yard wider than the standard size of 53.33 yards used in our imperial football fields. Carleton head coach Dave Quist was quoted as saying, “Every meter at that point seemed like a mile.” (Southernminn.com)
I can only assume Northfield Minnesota is a small town somewhere in the Twilight Zone where people are still a bit heartbroken football never converted to the metric system.