NFL Reportedly Set For Referees To Wear In-Hat Cameras During Games This Season
The NFL this season is "set to use the Fox Sports ref-cam technology that has been a major success" in Australia's National Rugby League, according to Chris Garry of the Brisbane COURIER-MAIL. It is the ref-cam's ability to "broadcast raw emotion that has thrilled" NFL and Fox Sports execs. Fox Sports Head of TV Channels Gary Burns said, "The NFL have come to us. They are interested in the technology and want to see more. They feel it could be a good fit for them and bring the NFL action closer to the fans" (Brisbane COURIER-MAIL, 7/20). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Kavitha Davidson wrote the cameras are a "big hit among rugby fans who are now given intimate viewing angles, especially of interactions between players and officials." In addition to the "up-close spectacle of players visibly reacting to calls," the ref-cams would be "useful to hear refs' explanations" of calls on the field. NHL referee Wes McCauley wore a GoPro camera during the league's outdoor Rangers-Devils Stadium Series matchup at Yankee Stadium last season (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/21).
IS THIS A GOOD IDEA OR NOT? CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce said, "NFL referees are already under so much scrutiny, now we're going to get the view that they have. ... They're going to get crushed. They're going to get absolutely crushed and they're already crushed enough. I think it's a terrible idea. I like that the audience can be right in the game and get the feel that they're actually on the field, but this is too much access.” CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb: “I actually think it will have the opposite effect that you think. Fans will actually see the point of view of the referee, and you’re like, ‘Wow, that was really, really hard to tell exactly what happened there.’” LaForce asked, “Who is going to want to go to a game now if you can have access to the referee and 100 other camera angles at home watching your TV?” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 7/22). ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "All this does is add another viewer-friendly angle. If you're a ref, I would even argue if you see what my job is like, you will be even more impressed with how hard it is." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said the NFL will "like featuring it strictly for the fans in the stadiums trying to enhance that viewing experience and bring it up to par with watching games from home" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/22).