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NFL: National Football Luddites? 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-take-a-reading-from-the-concussiontron-2000 dept.
theodp writes "The National Football League has been brainstorming with tech and communications companies on how to bring the NFL into the 21st century. Major-league sports are famously technophobic — the NFL outlaws computers and PDAs on the sidelines, in the locker room and in press-box coaching booths within 90 minutes of kickoff. But that may be about to change, which the WSJ's Matthew Futterman speculates could mean: 'Coaches selecting plays from tablet computers. Quarterbacks and defensive captains wired to every player on the field and calling plays without a huddle. Digital video on the sidelines so coaches can review plays instantly. Officials carrying hand-held screens for replays. Computer chips embedded in the ball and in the shoulder pads (or mouth guards) that track every move players make and measure their speed, the impact of their hits, even their rate of fatigue.' Part of the impetus for the changes is the chance for a windfall — the NFL's sponsorship deals with Motorola and IBM will expire after this season, and the NFL will be seeking more technology (and presumably cash) from its next technology partner(s)."
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NFL: National Football Luddites?

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  • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:32PM (#38428228)

    I don't watch pro sports because I can't relate to it. It's not interesting. Now college and lower are really interesting. There are huge differences in the athletes and you can see it. Mistakes happen so you can compare perfection to imperfection. Coaches matter too. And everyone is having fun. Pro just kills it. If they are going to go pro I'd like to see them go all the way and allow super modified cyborg humans compete.

    • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:38PM (#38428278)

      substance abuse in professional sports is so high that it is not entirely accurate to consider the sports a display of human skill--although not super-modified-cyborg-humans, they're as close as they can be without being detected by drug screenings

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Substance "abuse"? It's just substance use - athletes using chemical aids, steroids and hormones to improve their physical performance. I can't imagine why you'd qualify it as abuse in any way, shape or form - it's not like the athletes are hooked on steroids. They use these substances as a means to an end, not as an end in themselves.
        • You're getting too hung up on the semantics of the word. You don't need to be addicted for it to be considered "abuse".

          • But I think you are being too inclusive with the term "abuse". Many of these guys are allegedly using these substances without abusing them.

        • by PRMan (959735)
          Ask wrestler Superstar Billy Graham or Road Warrior Hawk how steroid "use" becomes abusive later in life.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          Becasue they are using the drug outside it's prescribed use; hence Abuse.

          "are hooked on steroids"
          which would be addiction, and not abuse. Not the same thing.

          Dumbass.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        substance abuse in professional sports is so high that it is not entirely accurate to consider the sports a display of human skill--although not super-modified-cyborg-humans, they're as close as they can be without being detected by drug screenings

        I'm not trolling here, but I honestly never understood this. Could someone explain to a non-sports person why steroids (which is what I assume you are talking about) is any different from taking vitamin supplements, diets planned by professional nutritionists, sports drink, specially designed running shoes, etc. Who cares? If it's not "fair" just allow everyone to take steroids.

        • by PRMan (959735)
          Sure. Vitamins, diets and sports drinks don't enlarge your heart increasing the risk of heart attack by hundreds of percent. They don't render you sterile. They don't cause you to need to get your feet amputated later in life. I could go on about the dangers of steroids, but they are certainly not safe over the course of a lifetime.
        • by Carnildo (712617)

          Steroids don't occur in a hypothetical "normal" diet.

        • by guanxi (216397) on Monday December 19, 2011 @11:08PM (#38429782)

          Could someone explain to a non-sports person why steroids (which is what I assume you are talking about) is any different from taking vitamin supplements, diets planned by professional nutritionists, sports drink, specially designed running shoes, etc. Who cares? If it's not "fair" just allow everyone to take steroids.

          A good question that's been discussed by many in sports. Here's my understanding and take:

          First, technically there are other drugs besides steriods; Human Growth Hormone (HGH), for example. I think the proper all-encompassing term is performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

          1) The non-PEDs that you mention haven't significantly altered performance. Take baseball for example: Before PEDs, in the 75 year modern history of the home run, once someone hit 61 HRs (Roger Maris in 1961) and once someone hit 60 (Babe Ruth, 1927). Nobody else hit 60 in all those seasons by all those players. In the 4 years from 1998 to 2001, players hit 63, 64, 65, 66, 70, and 73 home runs! Look at this list [baseball-reference.com] and note how many top HR single seasons occurred during the PED-era, and note that the trend stopped when drug testing began. (Many other records were set during the PED-era, HRs are just an easy example; the greatest individual hitting season ever and greatest individual pitching season ever both occurred (if you ignore the cheating) during the PED era).

          2) Sports are interesting as a contest of physical ability and effort, not of chemistry. That may be arbitrary, and maybe the Chemistry Olympics would be more interesting to Slashdotters, but physical competition is what is being advertised.

          3) PEDs involve health risks. Athletes are highly competitive by nature, and the difference between a good and bad season can be a multi-million dollar contract or the end of a career, being a minor-leaguer or making the big time. Unless PEDs are regulated, athletes are put in a position where they have to take greater and greater health risks, or lose.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @08:04AM (#38432730)

            I don't think drugs are the only reason for the contiunous record breaking we're seeing across practically all sports. Players now are "professional".

            As recently as the late 1980s my mother worked with a bloke who was a international cricketer. But he wasn't actually paid - he had to take time off from work to compete. When he ran out of leave, then he had to take leave without pay. Since 70s to now we've seen professional sports really take off - as in, it's the player's full-time and only job and the player makes a living from his pay or sponsorship.

            Now in many sports (gymanstics, swimming) professional players are picked as national level players in their early teens. Everything for these kids practically goes on hold - school, family, relationships - everything.

            When you're able to dedicate that level of full time committment to a sport then records are going to get broken.

        • On top of the health risks that others have mentioned, there's the money aspect. Everyone can afford a healthy diet, a pack of vitamin supplements, and gear that gets you close enough to compete. Cutting-edge drugs, implants and surgery, on the other hand, would be out of reach of anybody but the most well-funded athletes.

          Compare it to F1 or, even better, NASCAR: there are a ton of rules in play that make sure that it's not just the richest team that wins, even if some of the modifications are really not th

        • I'm not trolling here, but I honestly never understood this. Could someone explain to a non-sports person why steroids (which is what I assume you are talking about) is any different from taking vitamin supplements, diets planned by professional nutritionists, sports drink, specially designed running shoes, etc. Who cares? If it's not "fair" just allow everyone to take steroids.

          Sports are intended to be a combined display of inborn talent, natural ability, training, exercise, and experience. Ultimately that is what creates the competition.

          Vitamins, dietary supplements, and the like are valid because micronutrients are necessary to the functioning of the human body. That is, you can't ban them because they're necessary for life. The same is true for food. Drugs, on the other hand, serve no nutritional purpose. That's why they're called drugs and not foods. You can't justify t

    • by rotide (1015173) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:46PM (#38428360)
      I can't watch pro sport due to multiple reasons. First, it's basically nothing but a bunch of prima donnas complaining all the time. Everyone thinks they are gods gift. News flash, it's a game. Yes you get paid, but you're throwing a ball around a field, get over yourselves. Second, the fact that they are nothing but commodities in and of themselves now. Hell, the teams themselves are practically traded like baseball cards. Not to mention the non-stop and constant advertising. But what really gets me is the sheer fanaticism about it. People get so offended if you bash their quarterback, or root for the rival. There is nothing fun about it. Just a bunch of prima donnas on TV and people who idolize them for no reason. All the while you're being sold everything from beer, to deodorant, to cars. Hell, the Super Bowl is almost better known for it's advertisements!
      • by cos(0) (455098) <pmw+slashdot@qnan.org> on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:52PM (#38428418) Homepage

        Yes you get paid, but you're throwing a ball around a field, get over yourselves

        It's possible to trivialize any career if you try. I bet you get paid for simply pushing bits around, so get over yourself.

        • by rotide (1015173) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:57PM (#38428466)
          I wasn't trying to trivialize it. People just take the art (yes art, I'll give you that) and skill of throwing a ball and turn it into a holier than thou profession. It's sickening. You're a professional ball thrower and personality on TV. The problem is, it seems as though most of them see themselves as the latter. Everyone just needs to realize they are nothing more than professional kids in the sense that they play the same game kids do, just with more rules and structure. Not to mention multimillion dollar contracts.
          • You're a professional ball thrower and personality on TV. The problem is, it seems as though most of them see themselves as the latter.

            By all means, if it is mostly winning personality to do what they do, then show me how easy it is.
        • Yes you get paid, but you're throwing a ball around a field, get over yourselves

          It's possible to trivialize any career if you try. I bet you get paid for simply pushing bits around, so get over yourself.

          Go ahead and try to trivialize a surgeon, firefighter, or coast guard rescue swimmer without looking like a moron.

        • by BluBrick (1924)

          Yes you get paid, but you're throwing a ball around a field, get over yourselves

          It's possible to trivialize any career if you try. I bet you get paid for simply pushing bits around, so get over yourself.

          True, but you don't have to try terrribly hard to trivialize a career in which one gets paid to play a game.

      • by dward90 (1813520) on Monday December 19, 2011 @11:49PM (#38430162)

        Please cite examples of this. I think you're factually incorrect. There might be a small number (single digits) of players in all of American professional sports who act the way you are describing. The vast majority act (shockingly) *professional*. They say things like "We've worked hard and we're going to try to get better every day. I'm happy to do what I do for a living." I would put my foot in mouth and consider myself humbled if you could cite one example of a players acting like "a bunch of prima donnas" without finding a dozen where they act like (again, shocking) professionals.

    • I don't watch pro sports because I can't relate to it. It's not interesting. Now college and lower are really interesting. There are huge differences in the athletes and you can see it. Mistakes happen so you can compare perfection to imperfection. Coaches matter too. And everyone is having fun. Pro just kills it. If they are going to go pro I'd like to see them go all the way and allow super modified cyborg humans compete.

      I think some of these might make it worse (from your perspective). Frequent no-huddles mean more plays, more injuries and shorter careers (especially for Quarterbacks).

      Other things that take the error out of refereeing would be a welcome arrival. But players on the field should be as unplugged as possible.

    • by Silentknyght (1042778) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:03PM (#38428510)

      I don't watch pro sports because I can't relate to it. It's not interesting. Now college and lower are really interesting. There are huge differences in the athletes and you can see it. Mistakes happen so you can compare perfection to imperfection. Coaches matter too. And everyone is having fun. Pro just kills it. If they are going to go pro I'd like to see them go all the way and allow super modified cyborg humans compete.

      I don't know why this was moderated "off-topic", it's relevant, albeit a bit of an "end game" perspective... At some level, the "purity" of a sport comes into play, and this "technological" decision is directly tied to that. Right now, we have human beings playing sports and human beings coaching sports. We disallow unfair augmentation of players (i.e., performance-enhancing drugs), not only because it would become a race-to-the-bottom for player health, but also because it removes that sense of fairness we currently perceive by "limiting" the players to the gifts with which you were born.

      If coaching introduced technology without limits, it'd end up like Wall Street: a massive technological arms race to compute the "right" outcome faster than the opponents, and humans would be eliminated from the picture. YMMV, but I'm not interested in watching a sporting contest like that.

      • If coaching introduced technology without limits, it'd end up like Wall Street: a massive technological arms race to compute the "right" outcome faster than the opponents, and humans would be eliminated from the picture. YMMV, but I'm not interested in watching a sporting contest like that.

        So, like F1 then?

    • but back in the 90s and early 2000s I used to go to the Fiesta Bowl every year with my family as part of our yearly Christmas get together, since my parents chose to live in Phoenix later in life.

      While the game might be better than a pro game to watch, it was definitely set up to make money and draw TV viewers in.

      I'm not a huge football fan, but I would always enjoy seeing what went on to produce a college bowl game, from the way media were handled on the sidelines, to parachuters (or helicopters) flyin

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:35PM (#38428254)

    I'd say the NFL is probably one of the least "luddite" of the major sports--compare them to soccer or basketball for example...

    • by Rhodri Mawr (862554) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:46PM (#38428848)
      The only part of Association Football (soccer in your parlance) that is luddite is the use of action replays to allow the referee to make a better decision. Even that is on the agenda for change. On the contrary, Technology is being used widely in soccer, Rugby Union and Rugby League to measure the performance of players both on the pitch and off it in training.

      Technologies like Prozone http://www.prozonesports.com/index.html [prozonesports.com] and opta http://www.optasports.com/sports/football.html [optasports.com] provide detailed statistics to the Management/Coaching staff. Almost none of the top league European Soccer sides do not use some variant of these technologies, and if they don't, they won't be top league for much longer. Almost every successful side owes a fair part of their recent success to video analysis both on and off the pitch.

      In Wales we have grown used to seeing our Rugby Union coaches sat infront of laptops during matches, watching the laptops almost as much as the game. Players are biometrically monitored during training to ensure that they are neither slacking off nor overdoing it and risking injury during training.

      Rugby League has led the way in the use of action replays for the referees to watch in order to review infringements and borderline decisions, typically during the act of scoring a try.

      Cricket and tennis have championed the use of Hawk-eye http://www.hawkeyeinnovations.co.uk/ [hawkeyeinnovations.co.uk] to decide whether a ball would have hit the wicket or was in or out respectively.

      So, no, soccer is not luddite, and the NFL could certainly be doing and allowing more technological innovation.
      • by PRMan (959735)
        Dude, the ref still counts penalty time on his freaking wristwatch! something most 40-and-unders in the real world don't even own.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        When I watch an association football/soccer game(soccer's a British word, BTW), I have no idea how much time is left in the game because they haven't yet embraced this advanced game-clock technology. Somewhere, soccer scientists are toiling away trying to figure out how to get remaining game time to display on these strange liquid crystal displays people have hanging in their homes. If only there were some way to transmit stoppage information from the referee to some kind of a signal receptor contrivance! D

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          The reason that info is not displayed is because the Ref doesn't actually have the exact figure - it is down to his discretion when to blow the whistle. He has a guideline, of course, but ultimately it is up the the primary referee to call time.

    • by bjorniac (836863)

      Compare it to tennis or cricket, where Hawk-eye aids umpire decisions and you'll see its definitely a way behind. Cricket in particular has a lot of recent tech toys added - 'snickometer' and 'hotspot' being used to see if ball met bat through sound or residual heat. That said, radio communications between players and coaches have been banned - the reason given is that whilst in play, the game should only be decided by the players on the field.

      Soccer remains behind a little, it's true, though the English Fo

      • The main reasons cited are that replays etc would interrupt the game, and since it's a free-flowing sport ... this would change the game fundamentally.

        I hate that excuse. Soccer/football is not a non-stop sport. Play stops all the time -- for injuries, throw-ins, corner kicks, etc. It's just the clock doesn't stop. This "play never stops" thing is the biggest dellusion in soccer, and I think it hurts sometimes, such as the World Cup's inability to admit it's not 1932 anymore.

    • I'd say the NFL is probably one of the least "luddite" of the major sports--compare them to soccer or basketball for example...

      Really? You grasp for a luddite sports league and bring up basketball, by which you probably mean the NBA?

      MLB has to be the clear winner in ludditeness. They just recently allowed instant replay, but only for home run/foul calls (i.e. balls hit very close to the yellow poles). There is no official review, no challenging (ever see a coach argue and win instead of getting ejected?), n

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Baseball fan chiming in...

        Now, I do feel that baseball is too slow to adapt new technology. If I were commish, we'd not only have instant replay challenges, we'd be using some of that nifty cricket technology to call balls and strikes.

        But speed up the game? Aside from a few match-ups (I'm lookin' at you, Yankees-Sox), the pace is fine. A bit under three hours, same as football. I could do with fewer commercial breaks, but we all know that won't happen. And a shorter season? Why? They sell around 30k

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Yeah. Soccer hasn't even discovered stoppable clocks or clocks that count downward yet.
      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        Why should a clock have to count downward to be able to determine a fixed length of time? And why should a play clock stop just because someone fell down and wants the ref to throw a yellow card at the other guy? Sounds like soccer's clock works pretty well compared to other sports.
        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Except that when the game is over, they are still playing, and only the ref knows the magic number.

          It would be trivial to convey the ref's knowledge to the scoreboard. Nothing has to count down, just display the same number that the ref has in his head - just like the card they throw up on the sidelines at the half.

  • by Scareduck (177470) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:40PM (#38428308) Homepage Journal

    MLB's At Bat app for the iPhone and other phones is one of the best sports apps I've ever seen. Players have adopted iPads as a scouting aid [thenextweb.com]. I don't know where the author makes the claim that sports are technophobic; perhaps a better way of putting it is that they're slow to adopt, but that's not the same thing as Luddism.

  • by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:40PM (#38428310)

    . . .why are any of these technologies necessary or beneficial to NFL football? The sole benefit I could imagine is the ability to better protect players from injury, or after an injury has occurred. Other than that, I want to see athleticism, strategy and luck, not dweebs huddled around techno-baubles.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:41PM (#38428314)

    First, any call regarding location could be decided electronically and instantly. Every time they position the ball after a tackle, determine a first down, out of bounds, touchdown ... no reason not to use sensors and make instant, accurate calls. No more errors, no more wasting time on replays.

    You could use sensors to decide issues of contact:Determine pass interference -- was the hit before the play? Facemasking ... roughing the kicker ... helmet-to-helmet ... sensors in receivers gloves, in the ball, and in the field to determine possession on catches ...

    Sure, sensors won't be perfect, and probably some application would turn out to be impractical, but take the refs errors out of the game, spend less time referreeing and more time playing.

    • "Sure, sensors won't be perfect, ..." now instead of arguing over the imperfect calls of referees, we're arguing over the imperfect calls of computerized sensors.

    • by Radres (776901)

      I don't think this would quite work for all calls in the game of football. For one thing, the rule on the tackle is when any part of the body other than the feet or hands touches the ground, the player is considered down. Also, when the player stops forward progress, he is considered down. I just can't see there being a system that could handle making this determination; it would require the player to wear some uncomfortable equipment and it would probably be possible for the player to interfere with that.

      N

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        For one thing, the rule on the tackle

        The introduction of technology could easily introduce changes in the rules. Don't be a luddite.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      First, any call regarding location could be decided electronically and instantly. Every time they position the ball after a tackle,

      Better than that, they could track the ball's forward progress and never need a ref or ump or whatever the zebras are called. Pressure sensors in every knee and elbow pad tells us when the player was down, the computer tells us where the ball was. Position sensors tell us offsides or even count the number of players on the field. No replays, no bad calls.

      but take the refs out of the game,

      Fixed that for 'ya.

      For a season, the NHL had a tracking device in the puck so the tellyvission could follow it easier and do technical flummery with d

    • Wha? You can't just go down to the local radio depot and get a box of magical star trek sensors. "sensors" are a broad category of various devices that allow us to automate the gathering of certain types of information, with various drawbacks and limitations.

      Without defining the rules of the sport around the properties of various sensing devices used, I doubt you could approach perfect scoring in any sport outside of, maybe, Fencing.

  • by Myria (562655) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:42PM (#38428322)

    If computers were allowed, it might have far-reaching effects. A computer could know the entire state of the game, and look through every game in history to determine the outcomes of each choice a coach has at a particular moment. It could present to the coach a list of choices along with the expected outcomes given the probabilities in the past. In a way, it would eliminate some choices of the coach.

    I think baseball would be affected much more than football. Baseball has ten times the games per year as the NFL, so statistical analysis would be more effective.

    • by Threni (635302)

      > A computer could know the entire state of the game, and look through every game in
      > history to determine the outcomes of each choice a coach has at a particular moment.

      Isn't that like picking this weeks lottery numbers based on up to the minute analysis of how previous draws have gone?

      • by gknoy (899301)

        Not necessarily. One could see things like the likelihood of gaining X yards from all the times you (or others) have used a particular tactic against this particular team (or against all teams), or weigh with more math the relative risks of passing vs punting vs running a ball. I think that the communication impact would be huge, but I am certain that statistical analysis of what's the "smart" or "safe" choice (risk vs reward) of a set of plays could make things interesting from the coaching side.

      • Isn't that like picking this weeks lottery numbers based on up to the minute analysis of how previous draws have gone?

        No, there's more to the game than mere chance. In a way it's more akin to chess, where in a given situation some moves are more likely to lead to a win than others.

        Disclaimer: I know bugger all about American football, other than it involves two goals and a ball.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      They already do that to some extent, running analysis before each game and trying to distill the most salient bits of data into things for the coach/players to memorize. I agree it'd up it another order of magnitude if they allowed it in real time, though at this point it's already a weird sort of quasi-athletic competition where how good the coach is at memorizing things is a significant factor...

      • They already do that to some extent, running analysis before each game and trying to distill the most salient bits of data into things for the coach/players to memorize. I agree it'd up it another order of magnitude if they allowed it in real time, though at this point it's already a weird sort of quasi-athletic competition where how good the coach is at memorizing things is a significant factor...

        I saw a TV show about this a year or two ago where analysts for each team would pore over years of footage of opposing teams. I'm sure franchises quickly scoop up anyone with a background in data mining. Real time analysis, however, is probably exactly why computer equipment is banned.

    • I look forward to the day when, at the beginning of the match, the coaches will whip out laptops (or is it tablets?), type furiously, then one of them will look up and say, "you win".

      Then we can retire "professional sports" for good, and spend all that money on something useful, like education or free hookers for all the aspie nerds in colleges. ~

      • I look forward to the day when, at the beginning of the match, the coaches will whip out laptops (or is it tablets?), type furiously, then one of them will look up and say, "you win".

        There was a gag in The Jetsons a lot like that. Technically the coaches were controlling robots, but otherwise it was as you describe.

    • While that might be true, it is unlikely to make as big of a difference as you seem to think. The variables in the game are such that making consistently reliable predictions about the outcome of plays is unlikely.
    • Billy Beane [wikipedia.org] did just this with sabermetrics [wikipedia.org]. (The new film Moneyball [imdb.com] is based on this).

      Long before he book and movie were made Business Week (or similar magazine) had an article about it. He stopped looking at the human equation in baseball and started looking straight at statistics. And statistics of statistics. Stuff that you wouldn't even think about considering. "He hits 90% of the balls and 45% of those hit earn him a double when the pitcher is left handed." Then started to assemble a team of cheap pla

      • The thing that gets glossed over is that the "moneyball" draft of 2002 wasn't very good. Oakland had several first round picks and only the first two (Nick Swisher, and Joe Blanton) did anything significant in majors. Add to that the fact that a number of good players who had the sabermetric stats to suggest they were good were ignored, often for some really stupid reasons.

        If Beane had really stopped looking at the human equation he would have drafted Prince Fielder.

    • by fermion (181285)
      This may be true, but the reality is that in any environment where competition does not exist and the agents are free to set their own margins and rules, innovation is going to be slow. While computers might be able to use some form of stochastic and other analysis to predict certain parts of the game, it is unreasonable to assume that somewhere such computers are not doing exactly that and feeding information back to agents in or around the field

      The only reasonable reason to not embrace technology is be

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      They already do this in baseball. Ever see a spray chart? Here's Aaron Hill [fangraphs.com] from 2009. Managers eventually caught wise. He went from ~30 HRs a year to 8 last year, because pitchers started pitching him away. And he wasn't just slumping either -- his OBP stayed about the same. He can still hit the ball just fine no matter where you throw it, but he only has the strength to knock it out of the park if its pitched inside. That's a bit of an extreme case, but managers do look at this stuff for every batt

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:43PM (#38428336)
    There is a huge focus now on scoring plays. Every time there is a scoring play, the play is reviewed to make sure the player wasn't down and that the ball actually crossed to goal line. I've always thought they could make it a lot easier on the referees, for both scoring and spotting the ball, if they put RFID or similar chips inside the balls, then put sensors at every yard line to determine where the ball was at a given point. As a football official myself, let me tell you, there is a lot of inaccuracies regarding ball spotting. A lot of the time, especially if it is an out of bounds play, they will simply spot the ball on the closest yard line (unless of course it is right by the other team's bench, then they have to be much or accurate".
    • by fwice (841569)

      The issue with RFID in the balls is rather simple.

      RFID can tell you if the ball crossed the goal line to be a score.

      RFID cannot tell you if the runner's knee was on the ground before the ball crossed the line.

  • Before they start giving quarterbacks iPads, try letting the refs use the cameras to make more informed decisions. I don't even keep up with football, but I hear constant complaints from friends and family that do about referees making "bad calls" that you can totally see on the instant replay, but apparently they aren't allowed to use that.

    (I am quite possibly completely misinformed, here - as I said, this is a problem I know exists only at second hand)

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That applies to pretty much any sport you care to name. Part of the problem there is that what you see on the camera isn't always what happened, for various reasons the depiction on camera can be misleading in a way that one on the field wouldn't fall for. Other times the camera just has more precision than what a person can actually see.

      The flaws will remain permanently, or at least until we decide that it's OK for football to be played and judged by robots.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:49PM (#38428378)
    I don't care at all for NFL. or any "major league" sport for that matter.

    I don't see the bad side of more money being invested in technology though.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday December 19, 2011 @07:51PM (#38428404)

    I've seen this story before. NASCAR infamously has been trying to integrate technology, yet they can't track the speed or position of any of the 42 cars on the track at a specific moment in time...they rely on 100 year old radio wave transponder technology and timing loops. "Math" consists of dividing the length of the track by the time to complete one lap to determine a car's speed. "Telemetry" consists of how far the throttle is depressed (um all the way usually) and how far to the left the wheel has been turned.

    • "yet they can't track the speed or position of any of the 42 cars on the track at a specific moment in time"

      It's good you didn't say "speed AND position" I hear that gets REALLY tricky.

    • by zbobet2012 (1025836) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:15PM (#38428600)

      I was going to mod the parent down, but instead I will reply.

      Nascar intentionally limits the data that may be sent to the announcers, as much of the data coming from the cars is considered proprietary information for each team, this is mostly done in the interest of perserving competition. The actual teams put sensors on the cars that collect a simply amazing amount of data, from tire forces, suspension forces, engine sensors, frame torque, and etc. Last I talked to the software companies that do this high end race teams in NASCAR and Forumla 1 collect over 1000 data points once every microsecond or so. It is common place practice now for teams to "tune in" there cars by doing an actual test run in the car and then placing the data into a CVD (computation vehicle dynamics) program like Optimum-G and perform tweaks to the car several times and simulate the actual test run as its much cheaper and quicker to do it that way.

      Hell, a few years ago Formula 1 placed limitations on transmissions as there was a serious concern that the engineers where automating the transmissions for the drivers based on test runs around the track. If you think that the engineers and people involved in racing in a multi-billion dollar business where winning can mean tens of millions of dollars for the team are "meatheads" you are at such a level of ignorance its astounding.

      • I was going to mod the parent down, but instead I will reply.

        What a radical concept! ;-)

        (For the humor impaired: I am not criticizing zbobet2012. I am commenting ironically on the tendency of people to use the moderation system as a discussion system, which is wrong.)

    • by Animats (122034)

      I've seen this story before. NASCAR infamously has been trying to integrate technology, yet they can't track the speed or position of any of the 42 cars on the track at a specific moment in time...

      That's a solved problem. [sportvision.com] That technology has been deployed since 1982. When we were doing a DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle, we went to talk to the Sportsvision people about precision real-time GPS. They use some tricks we couldn't; for example, they have a model of the track and can get precision GPS with fewer satellites because they know altitude for each point on the track.

  • by nixed3 (1586839) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:02PM (#38428506)

    This would be so great for the sport. I am a huge football fan, and for the most part, I feel that NFL referees do a decent job of officiating the game considering the phenomenal pace at which these athletes are moving (flying) around the field. Use of HD-Replay allows them to "get it right" with a rather high percentage.

    Think of the potential for this: With just a few modifications, a football can have a chip to detect where it is on the field, at any given timestamp. This can be used to practically guarantee correct calls on scoring plays. Why not take it a step further and have the ship calculate how much pressure is being exerted on the ball from the player holding it (to determine if someone has "possession")?

    However, while I feel that technological advances for the sport in general are good (sensors in the ball and on the field, referees with better access to information), I am concerned about what happens if each TEAM gets to use increasingly complex technology because then the league has to provide the same tech to every team in every game. Obviously, if one team has access to superior information/technology that the others don't it is game-breaking. You can't give one coach a live, continuous HD feed from the sky viewing all players on each player (the coveted "All 22" shot) if every coach doesn't have it.

    (I just feel the need to soap box here and point out that NBA is a completely different story, as I'm almost certain that [playoff] NBA officiating is absolutely rigged and has been for the last decade.)
  • Battle School (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kEnder242 (262421) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:04PM (#38428514)

    Anderson talking to Graff about his new job.

    "Though after years of watching those children flying, football is like watching slugs bash into each other."
        - Ender's Game

  • In UK several teams use tracking devices on players, multiple gadgets , multiple maps , so far the best result i have seen was on a software that predicted the player effort and could determine with a good accuracy is next injury, so the effort on that player could be managed. knowing that on premier players rate from 10M each it is for sure a good investment.

    As for the game rules.... we use to say , a referee that doesn't score a penalty by mistake or incopetence, as the same guilt as a striker that failed

  • Banning technology is the accommodation that the league makes for allowing networks to broadcast every time a player or coach farts on the sidelines. You can't combine that kind of access with instantaneous contact with the outside world. Honestly, they should just stop the sideline bimbos from shoving mikes into every conversation between a coach and a player, but that'll never happen.

    On top of that, there's a wink-nudge system of players and coaches tipping off members of the sports media to game plans

  • Background: I have had multiple conversations about "athletic endeavors". I have settled on the following taxonomy.

    ***Athletic Competitions*** --- Competitions requiring athletes to physically demonstrate their athletic and applicable mental capabilities (often to their fullest extent).

    Races (human-powered): Running, Cycling, Rowing, etc.
    Sports (directly competitive scoring): Basketball, Football, etc.
    Sports (indirectly competitive scoring): Hammer-throw
    Athletic Competitions (subjective scoring): Gymnastics

  • Major-league sports are famously technophobic — the NFL outlaws computers and PDAs on the sidelines,

    It's not because they're technophobic. Their IT guys won't let them connect their "toys" to the network.

  • Say a guy up in the booth or even on the sidelines could place the opposing players formation on a virtual field. He could then punch in the receivers routes, ball handoffs, etc. and name the play. Or if the play was already in, that information would spring up and the information could be relayed to the defense. I don't see how that would be much different from the Patriots scandal.

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