SBD/July 31, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Implementing Player-Tracking Technology Using Sensors In Shoulder Pads

The NFL is "putting tiny sensors in players' shoulder pads this season to track their every move in 17 stadiums," according to a front-page piece by Tom Pelissero of USA TODAY. The league partnered with Zebra Technologies to "implement a real-time location system." The sensors will "send data on each player's whereabouts 25 times a second to roughly 20 receivers placed in each stadium." TV networks will "be able to visualize that data with the press of a button." The league "plans to use the technology to enhance the in-stadium experience this season, too." The devices "should be non-obtrusive" for players, as they are "roughly the size of the tip of a thumb" (USA TODAY, 7/31). USA TODAY's Pelissero notes Zebra is "applying the same radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that it has used the past 15 years to monitor everything from supplies on automotive assembly lines to dairy cows' milk production." TV networks "have experimented in recent years with route maps and other visual enhancements of players' movements." But league-wide deployment of the sensors and all the data they produce "could be the most significant innovation since the yellow first-down line." NFL teams this season "won't have access to the in-game information ... because of competitive considerations while the league measures the sustainability and integrity of the data." About 20 receivers "will be placed around the bands between the upper and lower decks of the 17 stadiums that were selected for use this year." All 15 teams that host Thursday Night Football "are on the list," along with the Lions and Saints (USA TODAY, 7/31).
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