Much like the forward pass did, technology has changed the game of American football, from how it’s coached to how millions of people watch games on TV. With this football season finally underway, we thought it would timely and fun to reflect on technology in football and its impact. So let’s kick off this list now!
Instant replay. It’s hard to imagine watching football (or any sport for that matter) without instant replay. Since its inception in the 1960s, instant replay has changed not only how we watch games (Wow, that was a bone-crushing tackle! Or, he really threaded that pass in there…), but how they are officiated. Both professional and college officials use instant replay today to review plays and sometimes overturn their own calls.
Action from every angle. Speaking of how we watch football, isn’t it crazy how many different camera angles there are these days? It allows us to see players, formations, and where the ball is going in so many different ways. One of our favorite views? The ones afforded by above-the-field cameras. There’s no better way to watch a deep passing play unfold before your very eyes.
Who needs hand signals? Football coaches, especially NFL ones, are notorious for being paranoid about opponents stealing signals or plays. Huddles and secret hand signals are no longer enough. Their solution? Using headsets that pipe directly into their quarterback’s or middle linebacker’s helmets! That way they can discuss plays and formations in private, because it’s so hard to hack that setup, right?
Eco-friendly Playbooks. Long gone are the days of binders of filled with hundreds and hundreds of pages of plays. Seriously, some teams’ playbooks are known to have contained as many as 800 pages! Talk about a lot of memorization and paper being used. Fortunately, most teams have turned to tablets to serve as their playbooks. They can store more information, of which can be manipulated to fit players’ needs, take up less space, and save more trees.
Not all fun and games. Football is a very physical, sometimes violent sport. You’ve got players running at full speed, wearing helmets, and trying to level each other. The advancement of MRIs and new football technology such as concussion-sensing helmets have highlighted the dangers of head injuries across all levels of football, from pee-wee to professional. And the results are scary, enough that some wonder about the future of the sport.
Ever-expanding reach. Football’s popularity has soared in recent years, thanks to social media. In a matter of seconds, you can receive game updates, get the latest news about your favorite team, etc. It’s also enabled college coaches to recruit student-athletes like never before, including expanding their reach. Twitter and Instagram are a big deal to teenagers and coaches/programs who use those platforms savvily stand out to recruits as well.
Fantasyland. Ever since CBS launched the first fantasy football website in 1997, participation in these stats-based leagues has soared, especially now that you can draft and manage your teams through apps. It’s helped connect even the most casual fans to the game, and in some cases, become a money-making venture.
Football fans, what are other ways technology has changed football?