Practically all sports employ instant replay technology to rectify and reverse on-field plays and scores. The NFL uses it to review touchdowns, receptions, and infractions. The previous year, they improved instant replay by adding more cameras and viewpoints to evaluate. Soccer uses VAR. VAR records the game from many camera angles and is utilized by the referee when appropriate. And in tennis, their technology identifies whether the ball bounces inside or outside the court.
A company called Hawk-Eye came up with all these tech ideas used in these sports. This technology has changed the outcomes and synergy of many games. And seems to be appreciated by all players and fans. But now, they want more!
Chip the Ball!
The Bears fans now want the NFL to take technology a step further. They are pushing the NFL to put a chip in the ball. This push comes after a controversial call made during the Bears and Packers game on Sunday.
The Bears were losing the game with a score of 24-10. It was the fourth quarter, and Chicago decided to go all in on fourth-and-goal. The quarterback Justin Fields took a shotgun snap and darted straight up the middle. It looks like the ball crossed the goal line, breaking the plane. However, the referees ruled it short. The Bears challenged the call, and the officials were off to review.
After review, the ruling by the referees stood. And Chicago turned over the ball to Green Bay based on a loss of downs. If it was a touchdown, there were no guarantees for Chicago to win, but they had plenty of time on the clock to score again. So now the Bears fans say it is time to chip and track the football.
If you look at the photos, you can see it was a touchdown. His knee was not down, and the ball crossed the goal because his arms were extended. But players were blocking the ball, so it was hidden from the ref’s view on the field and in the video replay. And, since you cannot see the ball in the replay, just like the referees, they cannot call it a touchdown. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Yes, but I did not hear it. So, if you cannot see the ball…
Balls Have Been Chipped Since 2017
Since 2017, the NFL has placed microchips in every football until today. They have sensors and cameras on pylons and first down makers that track the ball’s movement and location. However, this is only in a research and development phase. The league says they are not ready to use the ball solely to determine placement. There are still some complexities and complications that the NFL must rectify first.
The concept seems simple to the untrained eye: just put a chip in the football “and X marks the spot.” However, the NFL has more challenges and intricacies involved. For example, in other sports, the ball’s location is much easier to see and define on the field when the play is under review. In football, the ball is not the only element to determine the spot of the ball. The referee and the technology need to see and know when a player’s knee, hand, shoulder, or other body part touches the ground first. That is the challenge that NFL must overcome.
For the technology to be effective and trustworthy, players must also wear sensors and microchips. Hawk-Eye would need to track and detect the ball and the ball-carriers body to spot the ball correctly. From this, the system would be able to integrate all the sensor’s information and provide a result. So, as of now, it is not feasible, but it is possible in the future.
Until the technology is ready to be used and implemented in its entirety, the NFL will not use it as a source to reverse calls.