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If the answer to all three is yes, then Sportvision believes a graphic highlighting the play will add value for viewers. That thinking has produced yellow first-down lines, player route trails, and pass and kick tracking in the NFL.
And the three questions might offer leagues an effective way to focus searches for new technology.
Sportvision CEO Hank Adams said any of the company’s broadcast graphics could be adapted to assist officials. From the technology standpoint, it’s mainly a matter of mapping out game-day logistics.
Still, from working with the NFL and other leagues, Adams knows that once technology becomes a tool for deciding contests, once the drama associated with sports involves computers and sensors, it goes beyond logistics.
“To some technologists, it’s about, ‘We can do this, so they should,’ ” said Adams. “Fans feel the same way.
“I can tell you, technologically, it’s feasible. But this isn’t a no-brainer. If you’re a league, there are other considerations. Do the fans in the stands get to see it? Does it slow down the game? The league has other considerations than yes or no. It’s about, what is the impact on the integrity of the game and the cost, economically and in terms of entertainment?”
Blair estimates the cost of developing football goal-line technology could range from $200,000 to $900,000. The wide range reflects the number of variables, from the type of software used to the type of protection needed to safeguard the system from contact with players to the preferred method of data transmission.
Adams said, “It’s probably more than a couple million [dollars] by the time you’re all said and done with logistics, production facilities, communication, testing, and technology development.”
FIFA offers a business model for how officiating technology can be developed in a relatively short time at relatively little expense. After FIFA reexamined what role technology should play in soccer, it took less than two years to approve goal-line systems.
And companies paid the initial costs, gambling on getting what could be a lucrative license.
Now, it’s up to individual leagues and competitions to determine whether they will use the technology.
The English Premier League and upcoming major international tournaments, including the 2014 World Cup, plan to employ it.
With more and more technology available to broadcasters and viewers, additional officiating technology probably will appear in the NFL and other leagues sooner rather than later.
“Broadcasters and fans have more technology tools, and that gives them more information than the actual referees on the field,” said Harland. “You undermine the credibility of the game when every single person can see what the decision needs to be except the guy standing in the middle of the field having to make that decision.
“That is a very dangerous position to be in.”
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.