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NFL to Trial an Electronic System in the Preseason

In an attempt to take the human element out of the game, the NFL is set to test an electronic system for ball placement in the 2024 preseason.

The human element has been crucial for each and every major professional sport. For Major League Baseball, it’s the umpires calling balls and strikes. For the NFL, it’s the chain gang. Needless to say, it’s an imperfect system. Far too often, we see the football placed incorrectly and rob a team one way or another. At the same time, the league has to rely on grainy pylon cameras that could end up useless in weather or get knocked over.

MLB has seemingly attempted to start moving toward an automated balls and strikes system. In the minor leagues, pitchers and batters can challenge the umpire’s call with a simple gesture. It’s then given to the “robot umps” to either affirm or correct the call. In sports where the human element has proven to be ineffectual and a downright hindrance to providing the best product, adding a bit of automation is a good thing.

Starting in the 2024 preseason, the NFL is set to test run an electronic system to help in placing the ball and deciding first downs.

NFL to Trial Electronic System in the Preseason

The current challenge system in the NFL is not all-inclusive. Often, a team may challenge a play and it’s sent to another group of humans to make a ruling on what could be a subjective call. The NFL attempted to make it so that just about anything could be challenged. The issue was that it sort of turned into the MLB system where if there was any doubt, the call would just stay with what was on the field.

Spotting the football is even more sporadic in accuracy. Referees are not always in the best position to spot the ball and it sort of just goes off of what the crew feels like.

With this implementation, the NFL joins the likes of the NHL, soccer, and tennis in its accuracy. The footballs are already microchipped, so this further takes advantage of the technology.

The chain gang, if this is implemented, will not go away, of course. They’ll serve as backups to the system should technology do what technology does and fail from time to time.

The NFL has tested this system out with a few teams in the past. This will be the first chance for full implementation. If it goes well, the NFL could move to utilize the new system as early as this regular season.

Main Image: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports


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