In recent years, technology has increasingly made its way into the National Football League (NFL), and this year is no different, as NFL officials recently announced that within the next few seasons, all players will be wearing non-obtrusive GPS tracking devices during games and practices.
A league memo was sent to all 32 teams in the NFL on August 1st, 2013, requiring “players to wear non-obtrusive tracking devices in select practices and games.” Though this may have been news for the majority of the NFL teams, at least one team has been using this technology for close to a year. The Buffalo Bills have been using the GPS devices to assist with preventing injury, as well as the rehab process. “They talk about the distance you covered and the explosiveness and how fast you’re running,” running back C.J. Spiller told BuffaloBills.com. “It’s a good device to have.
In an effort to better chart health and improve player safety, the GPS devices will track and monitor various data such as velocity, acceleration, deceleration, distance traveled, changes of direction, jumps, heart rate, and more, as anywhere from 50-100 variables can be measured for each player. The actual GPS tracking device for NFL players is small (about the size of a pager), and is designed to be worn comfortably in a pocket below the neckline on the back of players’ undershirts, as all players wear these shirts underneath their pads.
It appears as if the National Basketball Association (NBA) has taken notice of the capabilities of utilizing a GPS tracking device on players. The San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks, plus four otherteams that have chosen to keep their identities secret, have invested in GPS tracking devices for use during workouts. These devices are also small, and are designed to be worn on the player’s back, between the shoulder blades.
Though the NBA currently does not allow the use of such technology during regular season games, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he’s considering using it during the NBA’s preseason in October. He said he has not yet been advised against it by the league.
As the technology becomes more prevalent in the coming years, it will be interesting to see how the games and players evolve as a result from all of the collected data.