FanDuel - WFBC

December 16, 2010

Inventor Creates Visible First-Down Laser: Inventor Alan Amron has created a visible green-laser first down marker system for use in football. Amron, who met with the NFL in 2003 to tout a different laser marker system, said the lasers cost $100,000 per set and are mounted to the markers themselves.

posted by rcade to football at 03:43 PM - 14 comments

That is very cool. I do think eye damage is a valid concern, but that could easily be remedied by having the operator turn off the laser at the snap of the ball and not turn it on again until the official has spotted the ball.

posted by Rock Steady at 03:47 PM on December 16

If I went to a game, I'd expect to see the field, not a line across the field. No doubt they'd do that on the video boards, but if I'm looking at the field, I can do without it.

As for taking 90 seconds for a first-down measurement, maybe if the chain-gang members are 90 years old.

posted by jjzucal at 03:59 PM on December 16

I can do without the whole thing altogether. I was fine with just being able to see the field on TV before they added the line.

If you're paying attention to the game, you can see where the player needs to get to make a first down without having a visible line.

I can also figure out what the down and distance is, which direction the ball is being advanced in, and which advertisers are sponsoring the game without having visible overlays on my TV screen prior to each snap.

This is pretty much a "get off my lawn" outlook, but that's the way it is.

posted by beaverboard at 04:22 PM on December 16

I like it. Of course, it will make mistakes (like in the Bucs game this past week more obvious). Maybe I just have worst seats anytime I go to a game, but I can't tell from my vantage point where the first down line is. I go to football games for the atmosphere, and watch on TV if I really want to pay attention to what is going on.

posted by bperk at 05:44 PM on December 16

Green seems an odd colour to pick... or should I RTFA?

posted by JJ at 06:10 PM on December 16

I don't see any problem with it as long as it is safe for all personnel on the field. Just because some people can get by without it, doesn't mean it wouldn't be an improvement. Sure, "true fans" don't need it, but how about people who are just getting into football, ones who dont know the complete rules but know the team needs to get to the first down line. They are just as deserving to have a fun game experience as the "true fans." Reminds me of some of my older relatives who think cell phones are useless because they got by without them their whole lives.

If you think that it benefits players who should know where they are on the field, however, then we have something to talk about.

posted by Andy1087 at 07:03 PM on December 16

This isn't a good idea. American football doesn't need more ways to split hairs and slow down the game. I caught a couple of announcers recently musing about a questionable catch and what would Vince Lombardi have to say about it. Like the announcers, I think he'd be embarrassed. It used to be a game played by men. Starting with Walter Camp's innovations the game has been getting slower and slower with more niggling over inches. The opportunities for strategy that these introduce is hardly worth the effort.

The technology is killing the game and now it is killing the players. The pads, the helmets, they are so effective as to give these physical freaks the delusional belief that they are invincible and they are hitting each other without regard precisely because they are so protected from the pain. The consequences just aren't there. Until they are, after they retire.

Back on topic. When the field official places the ball is still a judgment call, unless we want to start using instant replay for every down.

The NFL should look back a little more, all of this looking forward is ruining their game. Less really can be more.

posted by geekyguy at 07:29 PM on December 16

the game has been getting slower and slower with more niggling over inches

When so much money rides on the outcome of these games and each players performance, it really is hard to argue against getting the call right even if it slows the game down some. Its a game of inches, and everyone knows how terrible it feels to be on the wrong side of a bad call.

I wouldn't argue against a computer chip in the ball to tell the exact location of the football relative to the field to speed things up though. Main thing is that the calls made are the correct ones.

posted by Andy1087 at 07:47 PM on December 16

After all, if the line is accurate, the chain gang won't ever have to trot out.

OK, but what about the situation where the guy holding the stick has to drop it and get out of the way to keep from being creamed by players along the sideline? Isn't the replacement of the stick also a judgment call? I really see it more as an enhancement for the viewer than an accuracy indicator.

posted by graymatters at 07:49 PM on December 16

Green seems an odd colour to pick... or should I RTFA?

Only if they play on grass.

posted by owlhouse at 03:56 AM on December 17

When so much money rides on the outcome of these games and each players performance

If the outcome were perfect, it wouldn't be called gambling.

posted by graymatters at 09:26 AM on December 17

Human officials still mark the spot of the ball following a play, and they are remarkably accurate, though not perfect, most of the time. having some sort of instant first down reference would take all the drama out of the crucial measurement, when they walk the chains in, the chains are stretched, and the crowd holds its breath. Why would you want to take away that element of the game? If precision is really that important, put a sensor in each point of the football, and use some sort of triangulation system after each play to determine the spot of the ball.

posted by Howard_T at 04:17 PM on December 17

Given that betting is legal in the UK and much of the rest of the world, I would imagine the amounts wagered on the 'other football' are at least in the same neighborhood as on the NFL. Yet somehow the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A still get by without to the meter precision on most spot placements and throw ins and I haven't noticed much uproar over it. Goals, sure, but that seems qualitatively different than first down judgments.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:18 PM on December 17

Yet somehow the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A still get by without to the meter precision on most spot placements and throw ins and I haven't noticed much uproar over it.

American football is a game of exact measurements, from the down markers to the game clock; association football isn't.

posted by etagloh at 02:15 PM on December 21

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