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Sports Equipment Technology

NFL Refs Create Technology Committee to Discuss Hi-Tech Changes to the Game

December 03, 2012


The NFL is kicking it up a notch with various new technologies designed to bring the football league into the future.

Referees working with the NFL have famously battled tricky matters of perspective on making calls--for instance, where the yellow first down line actually is in relation to players. Now, the NFL is officially combating the problem with innovative ideas that will allow referees to see every aspect of the game as a fan would be able to from the vantage point of the broadcasts. 

Image via Shutterstock

The new technologies may sound a little wacky, but they have the potential to completely revolutionize the game. Some examples of the proposed technologies include virtual reality goggles to add detail and scope to the perspectives of the referees, and sensors implanted in footballs to allow exact location information to be sent to those making the calls.

Additionally, the technology currently exists to allow cameras to chart every movement on the field, as well as equipment to relay specific data about each player.

Sure, this could be information overload, but it could also mean better plays and better calls.

“There are 121 guys who are NFL officials, and some of them, in their other walks of life, are exposed to lots of different technologies. There may be something that we see in our other life that we think might have some beneficial applications,” explained NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) president, Scott Green.

So what’s the hold-up? Why aren’t we already using this technology?

According to Green, the only needed step to bring these ideas to reality is getting the talks in motion.

“We just want to be able to talk to the league about it,” said Green. “It also gives us a heads-up on the ideas the league may be hearing about.”

The NFL seems to be more than open for such discussions, as NFL spokesman Greg Aiello agreed.

“We’re always interested in the possibility of technology improving our game, including officiating. We will continue to look at ways that any type of technology can make our game better,” said Aiello.

An agreement was recently made between the NFL and the NFLRA to provide a Technology Committee dedicated to putting these ideas in motion. The committee will reportedly meet once a year.

Fans used to controversy concerning calls made in a game could be upset at this news, however. The type of technologies being discussed could potentially end all question when it comes to which side was right and which was wrong. And of course, die-hard fans love to argue, and are used to blaming losses on referees.

As Green aptly puts it, “Technology can be helpful, but it shouldn’t be overbearing and intrude on what makes the game great. You don’t want to be watching some guy in a spacesuit running around, trying to look through goggles and make decisions. It’s still a game played by humans and coached by humans and officiated by humans.”

That is, of course, for those worried about robots infiltrating the sports of the future. This fear is not exactly founded, assures Green.

“You can work to make improvements, but you don’t want to take away from what makes [football] the most popular sport in America.”

Ultimately, there are no official plans aside from the formation of the Technology Committee. The basic word as of this time on this whole matter is simply, according to Sportvision CEO Hank Adams, “Technologically, it’s feasible.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman