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Advanced computerization will determine spot of the ball in the USFL

USFL will use lasers for first down measurements.



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.

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.

Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist and has been involved in football officiating for 12 years. Cam is in his fourth season as a high school football official. This is his ninth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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