The goal post on a football field is located at or near the end line of the end zone. In the NFL, the base of the goal post is located two yards behind the end line and the neck of the goal post curves so that the target area is directly above the end line. This is called a "slingshot" goal post. In college and high school football, the goal post may be located directly on the goal line.
National Football League
A football field in the United States measures 100 yards from goal line to goal line. There are 10-yard end zones behind both goal lines. Since the target area of the goal post is directly above the end line, the two goal posts measure 120 yards apart. However, since the base of the goal post is set back two yards from the end line, the length between the bases of the two goal posts measures 124 yards.
The target area of college goal posts are situated on the end line as well. In many cases, the goal posts are set back similar to professional goal posts and measure 124 yards apart, but in other cases, the goal posts are situated directly on the goal line. When they are on the goal line, they are 120 yards apart. Additionally, the goal post may have a supporting base or may resemble the letter "H," with two supporting legs in the ground. This is less common as of 2011, but Division II and Division III schools may use these type of goal posts.
High school goal posts are situated similarly to college goal posts. They may be set back from the goal line or directly on the goal line. There are many high school fields in rural areas that use the H-style goalposts directly on the goal line. Additionally, some high schools in less-populated areas primarily in North Dakota, South Dakota and rural areas of Minnesota play a version of the game called eight-man football. This game is played on an 80-yard field. This type of field has 10-yard end zones, which means that the goal posts sit 100 yards from each other.
Goal Post History
The NFL placed its goal posts directly on the goal line through the 1973 season. However, in an attempt to encourage touchdowns over field goals and to prevent player collisions with the goal posts, they were moved to the end line. When the goalposts were located on the goal line, they sat 100 yards apart.