Brother Beede Invents The Penalty Flag

Published October 17, 2016

On this day 75 years ago, Brother Dwight “Dike” V. Beede (Delta-Alpha, Carnegie Mellon University, ’23) first introduced the penalty flag to the game of football. At the time, referees used horns and whistles to signal a penalty on the field. This method proved difficult to the players, coaches, and even the fans watching. It wasn’t uncommon for the players to stop playing completely, thus depriving the non-guilty team of yardage they could have gained. Coaches and fans had trouble hearing the signal, so a lot of times they didn’t recognize that a penalty had even occurred.
On October 17th, 1941, Brother Beede, then coach of Youngstown State University, suggested the use of his penalty flag in a game against Oklahoma City University. OCU’s coach and the game officials agreed to the experiment and apparently it worked! One of the game officials, Jack McFee, liked it so much he decided to use it at the Ohio State-Iowa game a few weeks later. League Commissioner Major John Griffith was present at the game and the rest is history. So every time you see that bright yellow flag thrown on the field, you can thank Brother Beede! And, hopefully it’s not your team being penalized…