During Sundays Hall of Fame game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants, Microsoft Surface 2.0 tablets were allowed on the sidelines for the first time in the NFL.
This may not be as ground-breaking as when the National Broadcasting Company earned a spot in pro football history by becoming the first network to televise a pro football game on October 22, 1939 but it’s certainly a step in a new direction. Microsoft created what it calls a Sideline Viewing System that allows NFL teams to review photos of plays instantly on the sidelines and up in the booths.
According to Foxsports.com:
- Each team is given 25 tablets, 13 for the sideline and 12 for the coaches’ box.
- The tablets will operate on a closed network, which will protect information from being hacked.
- Images from each play will upload in five seconds, instead of the 30 or 40 seconds that it took for a paper printout.
- Teams will have the option of using paper instead of the tablets if they wish.
- However, if for some reason the tablets fail to work for one team, they will be taken away from the other team in the interest of fairness.
The quality of the images is substantially better than a print-out. In USA Today, I saw where New York Jets coach Rex Ryan recalled, “Sometimes with the old paper printouts, you’d get them back and you’re like, ‘Man, what is this?'” “This should be a lot nicer and the quality a heck of a lot better,” he said.
According to the AP, the tablets will be locked in a temperature-controlled cart when not in use and operate on a secure network so no one can hack in and intercept the images. Coaches and players will be able to draw on the tablet, which means that the next generation of broadcasters should be significantly better at telestrating.
I’m not sure if there are any negative implications to having this technology available and quite frankly, I can’t think of any right now other than one of the tablets simply not working, however, you have similar circumstances with the past and still current option of black and white print outs. I do know that you won’t see any NFL teams or players using Twitter or Instagram on the sidelines as players and coaches won’t have access to Twitter or other social media on the modified tablets.