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Advanced computerization will determine spot of the ball in the USFL

The USFL has developed some new rules innovations in order to create an exciting game for fans. To make the game somewhat easier for the officiating crews, tight plays near the first down marker will be governed by a digital system which will determine if the ball has reached the line to gain.

Microchips inside each football will be used to determine the ball’s location on the field, and a set location of the line to gain will be compared to the spot of the ball to see whether or not a team has achieved a first down. In a preseason game earlier this month, this technology was tested and shown on the Fox broadcast.

https://twitter.com/USFL/status/1512612562709274628?t=yib3rBF_Cy7CzXtgbf5iJw&s=19

It is not entirely clear exactly where in the football the chip is located. Presumably, if this technology is being used to measure fractions of an inch, the chip would likely be found at or near the nose of the ball. However, this is not confirmed.

Additionally, it is unclear as to whether this digital microchip system will be the final arbiter of the spot of the football in relation to a first down, or if this will be used in conjunction with a traditional measurement.

What will happen if a game is decided by a very tight spot on fourth down? Will a coach be able to challenge the spot as determined by the chip in the football? Time will tell if this innovation will be an unexpected success or a colossal failure.

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Cameron Filipe
Cam Filipe is a graduate student at Boston University and has been involved in football officiating for ten years. Cam is entering his second season as a high school football official. This is his seventh season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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One thought on “Advanced computerization will determine spot of the ball in the USFL

  1. The chains are not just for measuring a 1st down, but the players look at the chains to see where the 1st mark is as they run out of bounds

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