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Dr. Saturday

SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 authorize in-game tracking devices, but to what end?

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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The NCAA Football Rules Committee approved the use of in-game tracking devices on players from the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12, but the committee isn't quite sure what kind of data it will collect or how the information will be used.

OK then.

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SEC football officiating coordinator Steve Shaw told al.com that the tracking devices could – in part – measure speed and movement to help with player safety, but there’s also some thought that the devices could be used to create a better television experience both for consumers and advertisers.

"I think it really is more for tracking how fast a player is moving and the direction of his movements so you have an electronic signature of all of that," Shaw told al.com. "Then what you do with that, we have to figure that out. You could track speed before a collision and that sort of thing. To be honest, I'm not sure what all of the applications are. But it has potential benefit in player safety, so I think it's worth taking an initial step to see what the technology does."

Shaw said he didn’t know how many players would wear the tracking devices or where they would be placed.

It would be fantastic if college football could somehow use the information gathered to measure concussion-related data and make the game safer. The NCAA has made a push to implement strategies to promote safer play and this would definitely be a step in the right direction.

However, as the article noted, the NFL used similar devices on players during Thursday night NFL Network games with no intention of helping a player's well-being. According to CBSSports.com, those devices could possibly be used to test an initiative that would allow consumers who wanted to track games and individual players and give an overall better game experience on cellphones or other mobile devices.

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On the flip side, there’s also some thought that coaches could use the information to give their team’s an advantage in position matchups.

But Shaw isn’t ready to say where the information will go once it’s collected.

"There's not a final plan out there," he said. "The technology is emerging. It's not fully developed. There's promise in it and we really need to look at and see if it has benefits to the game. That's as far as we are right now."

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