New Technologies That Are Changing The Way We Play Sports

Abigail Jackson, Sports Editor


While sporting events used to be broadcast by a single, stationary camera in black and white, they are now shown with a variety of camera angles, informative graphics and instant replay. Instant replay allows for plays to be viewed again instantly after they happen and gives referees and fans the ability to see them slowed down or closer-up. Where referees previously had to rely on what they saw in the moment, they can now rewatch plays if they were unable to make a fair call. In the National Football League (NFL), coaches can throw a challenge flag on a play in order to have it reviewed and possibly overturned. Instant replay allows for the referees to view plays again on the sidelines and reverse their call if necessary. This new ability has enhanced the accuracy of sports refereeing, not only in football but in other sports as well. In baseball, umpires can slow down a play to see if a player was safe on a base or not, and in racing sports, such as equestrian and track, film can be rewatched to determine the winner in a photo finish. Fans also benefit from instant replay, as they can view plays again without having to rewind the game. They can also view the plays from different angles if the one broadcast doesn’t show the whole play. Instant replay allows for a completely new viewing experience and allows for more accurate gameplay. 



Radio frequency identification (RFID) chips can determine the exact location of the person wearing them, and recently, they have begun to be used in sports. RFID chips are most often used in track events as they can be helpful in measuring time or alerting broadcasters and camera operators on the racers’ exact locations. There are two kinds of RFID chips that are used in sports — active and passive. Active chips are battery-run and are more accurate in calculating at what time athletes cross a certain point. Passive chips don’t have built-in power, and they require sensors in order to record time. RFID chips aren’t just used in track. Oftentimes, the RFID chips are linked to the starting pistol for track events, so that the timer starts as soon as the race does, and they are designed to stop as soon as the athlete crosses the finish line. Additionally, NFL athletes use RFID chips in order to track their speed when running different plays, and soccer players use them to calculate their average speed throughout a game. RFID chips are allowing players to learn more about their in-game performance so they can better track improvement throughout a season. 



Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the international governing body of soccer, and it oversees the World Cup every four years. In 2011, FIFA introduced goal line technology, which helps determine whether the whole soccer ball crossed the goal line. There are two kinds of goal line technology that FIFA uses in the World Cup. The first is camera-based, in which a myriad of cameras are used to produce a better picture of the goal line. A software system evaluates the camera footage and makes a decision based on the video. The other kind is magnetic goal line technology, in which wires are run through the goal. The ball itself is implanted with multiple chips, so if the ball completely crosses the goal line, it is sensed by the wires, and the referees are notified. The NFL uses a similar technology by putting cameras in the pylons that are parallel to the end-zone, so that they can evaluate the footage and determine if the football crossed the line or not.



Technology can now be used to help increase the safety of players on the field. The National Football League (NFL) has seen rising numbers of concussions among their players over the past few years. Football is a contact sport, and it is common for players to get multiple concussions throughout their time in the league. According to a study done by students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the NFL reports about 140 concussions every season, which is more than any other sport. In 2018, the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) conducted a study on different models of helmets and prohibited 10 different models that were not up to their safety standards. They have also developed new ways of padding and designing helmets so that they absorb some of the shock during collisions in order to protect player’s heads and necks. The NFL has done similar research to design cleats that are designed to help prevent foot and ankle injuries for athletes. New technology has also helped dietitians determine healthier eating plans for players that can increase their strength and endurance.