SEC Football 2012: Wireless Communication Is Nice but Game Needs More Advances
The Birmingham News' Jon Solomon recently reported that the SEC was going to be experimenting with wireless communication for the referee crews on the field. As Solomon points out:
The technology could help officials communicate to identify pre-snap reads, become more efficient in enforcing penalties without huddling, and explain rulings better to coaches.
That is a positive as it will help crews get on the same page, read their keys and work together as a unit. However, when it comes to technology, wireless communication is merely scratching the surface of where football, as a sport, needs to be heading with respect to ways in improving the game. As friend and colleague Tim Hyland of The College Football Anthenaeum points outs:
@mac_b_from_tn The most fundamental element of football--how far the ball has been advanced--is complete and total guesswork. It's insanity.— Tim Hyland (@IntelligentCFB) July 6, 2012
And he's right. Even with the wireless communication, football officials are guessing time and again where to spot the football. The exception, of course, is when the spot is reviewed on film. This gets ratcheted up as the stakes increase: late first downs and any and all close touchdowns.
Our international brothers, the folks playing the "other football," have taken steps to correct deficiencies in their officiating. FIFA has approved the usage of both HawkEye and GoalRef as a way to avoid issues with goal scoring. As reported by gizmodo:
The first technology is called HawkEye, which had been used in tennis for quite some time. HawkEye's cameras will be installed on the pitch's goalposts. They will track the ball and make sure it has passed the line.
For redundancy, there will be another tracking technology called GoalRef. Developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, GoalRef uses a low magnetic field around the goals, creating an invisible radio curtain. When the ball fully goes through that curtain, the magnetic field changes and the system sends an alert to the referee's wristwatch.
That's an improvement on the very basic "instant replay" system that college football uses and something that the game should look into as the stakes get higher and technology makes getting the calls correct more of a certainty than a hope. With tech-advances like HawkEye and GoalRef, we could get a clearer picture of whether the ball crossed the plane to signify a touchdown or where the ball should be spotted.
Gizmodo also mentions the use of microchips in the players' shoes in order to police offsides; an advancement that could help improve accuracy. The same goes for football. Not to police offsides, but rather to figure out if players come down in-bounds or out-of-bounds on crucial plays in the game. Better believe that Patrick Peterson is wishing for the microchipped cleat following his interception against Alabama.
The technology is there to help take the guesswork out of officiating. It is on the stewards of the game to implement these practices because with so much at stake; getting the call correct should be job one.
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