RCS Sidelines

December 18, 2008 11:00 AM

Technology Could Help Refs Make the Right Calls

How many times have you heard “There was no indisputable evidence to overturn the call”? There are so many plays that are just too close, even with all the camera angles covering NFL games. (This is exactly why I think NFL referees get a bad rap. If you can’t even tell from the video in super slo-mo, how are they supposed to get every call right when players are flying at each other at high rates of speed?)

Clearly instant replay has helped (though Ravens fans might disagree), but there is new technology that could be even more accurate. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette brings us a story from Carnegie Mellon University, where a professor and her students are putting GPS equipment into receiver gloves and footballs that can “measure everything from grip and trajectory to speed and position.”

Dr. Narasimhan grew up in India and Africa and moved to Pittsburgh seven years ago and fell in love with the Steelers. Like any die hard football fan "she also found herself 'throwing things at the TV many times when calls didn't go my way,'". But instead of taking it out on her co-workers like most Americans, she took matters into her own hands.

The technology would ultimately be able to tell without doubt whether [a] ball was caught before it bounced off the ground.

It could also show such things as who actually has the ball in a pileup, whether a runner has crossed the goal line inside a mass of humanity and whether a receiver has control of the ball before he goes out of bounds.

I'd imagine referees would love this as well. We've all seen that pile of bodies in the endzone and the refs just stare at each other because they have no clue whether the player got in or not. Then, they sort out the bodies and make the best call they can, given the evidence. This technology would eliminate any doubt and should also speed up the review process. They wouldn't have to take 10 minutes going under the hood and looking at 25 different angles that don't show any definitive proof. They would simply get the word from the person in front of the computer tracking the GPS signal in the ball.

A Member Of