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THE CHIP: A NEW INNOVATION TO THE GAME OF FOOTBALL By Mark Hollis

mark hollisIt was recently reported by the Toronto Sun that the NFL will be experimenting with adding a chip to the game balls during the 2016 season. These Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips will be utilized to track the flight of the ball during field goal attempts. Apparently, the league has an interest in narrowing the width of the goalpost and thereby minimizing games being won solely on the foot of the place kicker.

The chip would track the flight of the ball measuring its distance, height, and its transition through the uprights. The accumulated data, when generated, will profile if the balls cleared the goalpost within the horizontal span of 18.6 feet. If the information indicates that span could be reduced to 16 or 17 feet, then the league would be able to justify the change. The RFID, if successful, could provide critical data that would be very beneficial to those teams prescribing to the technology.

The information that will be generated by the RFID technology when implanted in the footballs by the NFL could be staggering. When coaches are planning their offensive schemes it would be easy for them to track the trajectory of the balls when thrown by the quarterback to the receivers. It would be easy for them to review shoulder positioning of the pass catcher to be thrown to and aid in developing timing routes for the receiver. It will give the offensive coaches critical knowledge on proper gap planning for running the ball against their opponents. Quarterbacks will become more effective passers when reviewing their timing and placement data from previous games. On defense secondary coaches, those that coach defensive backs will similarly receive valuable information generated by the technology. Ball trajectory and timing when covering pass catchers would impact every team’s defensive scheme.

Overall, the technology attributed to the RFID could change the game of football as we know it. Personally, I feel that the skew of using the chip would benefit teams more defensively than offensively. It will assist in the predictability of route running and the loft time of the football when thrown. Either way, it will bring a level of excitement to football. This new chip is a proactive approach that is innovative in the information age we live in.