NFL to Experiment with Chipped Balls

NFL preseason starts in just a few weeks. This year, it will come with a bit of a technological upgrade. The league plans to experiment with custom microchip-equipped footballs. Unfortunately, this move has nothing to do with policing under-inflation — the idea is to verify through hard data that a narrower set of goal posts would mean fewer successful kicking plays.

Why? Kicking plays across the league have been more accurate than ever in the last couple of seasons, and the NFL would like things to be a bit more competitive. Just last year, extra point kicks were moved back from the 20 to the 33-yard line. Kickers already use brand-new balls that are harder and more slippery than the field balls, so narrowing the goal from the standard 18’6″ width is the natural next step. A corresponding pair of sensors in the uprights will reveal exactly how close the ball is when it passes between them.

The chips will only be in K-balls, and only in those kicked during the 2016 preseason. If all goes well, the league may continue their use in Thursday night games this season. We couldn’t find any detail on these custom-made chips, but assume that it’s some kind of transmitter/receiver pair. Let the speculation begin.

Main image: Field goal attempt during the Fog Bowl via Sports Illustrated

[via Gizmodo]

29 thoughts on “NFL to Experiment with Chipped Balls

    1. But a ball with a chip in it could be verified to be authentic and thus fetch a much, much higher price when sold to fans. The only thing the NFL cares about in the game is how much more money they can pull in.

      They enforce rules because otherwise angry fans would start boycotting games; they care about stopping domestic violence because the bad press was affecting ticket and memorabilia sales; they care about how exciting games are so they have more eyeballs glued to the screen and watching more advertisements.

        1. Yes.
          Aannnyyyywwaayyy…
          I find this quite interesting. There was one hell of a debate that started during the ‘deflategate’ ‘scandal’. Not sure how it will play out.

  1. I never understood the desire of sports regulators to make the game harder and harder just because a few people figured out how to play it better. The same thing is true in a lot of types of racing. Years ago a team could innovate and invent to make their cars go faster, now the cars are all cookie-cutter copies and any innovations are banned (examples: NASCAR and F1).
    I think the NFL would be a lot better off if they spent their efforts in finding a way to prevent their players from all getting head injuries every time they play.

      1. Actually in the 1980s, while I was living in NC, I was involved in a project to monitor CO inside of the car. A data logger was constructed and installed inside of the car of a popular driver at both the Talladega and Charlotte races. We flew under the radar of NASCAR. When comparing time stamped data with the video of the race, you could see very direct correlation of CO concentration and how the cars were bunched up. Some of the air systems you see in cars today were a result of those efforts.

      2. Actually, in the 1980s, I was involved in a project to monitor CO inside of a car during races at Talladega and Charlotte. This was under the radar of NASCAR, but blessed by several drivers that showed symptoms of CO poisoning (who made our project possible). Those findings contributed to the driver air systems you see in the cars today.

    1. F1 is all about innovation. The idea is that you need some limitations to get around to find innovations. Formula 1 is the furthest from a cookie cutter series.. What you are referring to is a spec series in which all the cars are the same so that the racing depends solely on the skill of the driver. It is not a way to hinder the skill required, but to make the skill only on the driver, while other ones are team sports.

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