Whether made of aluminum or heavy gauge steel, football goal posts used for professional, college or high school football games are built to last and to adhere to safety standards protecting players and personnel on and around the field.
Goal posts used in the National Football League (NFL) and in collegiate football measure 10-feet high and 18-feet, 6-inches wide. High school goal posts, by contrast, are 10-feet high and 23-feet, 4-inches wide. Vertical posts in the NFL and college must extend 30 feet above the crossbar, while in high school the minimum for vertical height is 20 feet above the crossbar.
Goal posts are often made from a combination of heavy gauge steel and aluminum, with the steel measuring anywhere from 4 to 5 inches thick. The gooseneck, which stands at a 90-degree arc and supports the crossbar and the uprights, is often the strongest piece and measures about 5 inches thick. The crossbar is normally about 4 inches thick, while the uprights are normally 2 3/8 inches and constructed solely from aluminum.
Most goal posts in use in the NFL and in college stadiums are semi-permanent and corrosion resistant. This means they can be used and left free-standing in any type of weather, while most are anchored with ground sleeves. Folding and portable goal posts are also available through different manufacturers, but are normally constructed with an aluminum crossbar and uprights. Some are capable of being raised and lowered with a hand crank in about 20 seconds.
Goal posts in the NFL were placed in the back of the end zone beginning in 1974 because players often ran into them, causing injury. The risk diminished with the larger buffer and post pads were eventually placed around the gooseneck with a foam core and vinyl-coated nylon to further protect players.
All NFL goal posts were painted a yellowish gold beginning in 1966. A ribbon or wind direction banner measuring 4 inches x 42 inches is attached to the top of each post in order to indicate wind direction.
According to United States Patent 5429350, goal posts used in the NFL and in college football games are now built to withstand the stress of fans mounting and attempting to tear down the posts. Current goal posts are designed to support the weight of 22 fans at one time, which can prevent potential injuries when fans fall from it or are hit by a falling goal post.