Thursday, October 29, 2015

NFL data mining

Tonight’s Thursday night NFL matchup between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins, the NFL will use  RFID chips embedded in each player’s shoulder pads to gather and provide information to a variety of people. These chips will track each player’s on-field movements during the primetime game. The article from CIO focuses on the implications that this tracking method could have on the NFL, and the focus of providing even more information to avid fans of the game.
With all the information available from the use of RFID chips the NFL seems to have a plethora of ideas for how it can be used. One idea I liked was the use of data and highlight reel clips. Now you will be able to know how fast a player was running or how high he jumped when making a spectacular play. The placing the chips in player’s shoulder pads is also going to be valuable to be for post-game evaluation purposes, providing accurate details on how far, how fast, a player ran, and tracking the routes ran by a player. A player’s livelihoods depending on their physical performance each game, they too want to get a hold of the data gathered in order to figure how they can be better hydrated, run faster, or speed their recovery.
The article covers so many possible uses of the data it is hard to think of things left untouched. Overlooked though is the implications this technology could have on practice. If a coach doesn’t want a star player to be tired for a game, he can just pull information on how far he has ran during the course of the practice and pull said player when deemed necessary. One thing that comes to question is the durability of these chips, due to the great forces created during hits, RFID chips could break for many number of players during a game, so how will information be gathered if these chips are no longer functioning? Would a player have to switch shoulder pads if the coaching staff wanted to continue to gather information?
I see the incorporation of tracking players in the league as being more beneficial to the athletes and coaching staff than to the fans. Fans will see the information as important in fantasy football or interesting factual additions to highlights, but the real use will be for the team itself for evaluations.


  1. The incorporation of RFID chips in equipment will undoubtedly be a huge addition to sports. Like you said, not only can fans use this information for fantasy football and for tracking their favorite players attributes, but coaches and players can use this to improve their game. If a player knows how fast he was going at a certain play in a game from the information provided by the chips, he can be able to improve upon, and analyze his performance. Also this would greatly improve the medical staff's diagnosis for players, and determining the severity of head-to-head collisions. The implications ripple throughout and is useful for everyone.

  2. The NFL embedding RFID chips into players’ shoulder pads will be revolutionary for the league, and may demonstrate a step forward in the NFL observing its’ players’ health. Although these RFID chips will be used for highlights to get figures on how players are performing, if this technology is utilized correctly, the NFL can get statistics on how players hit. To be more specific, the NFL can get statistics on the speed players are going into hits, and analyze hits that involve players leading with the head, and observe how these hits are different from regular tackles. With the recent surge football has encountered regarding concussions, implanting RFID chips into shoulder pads demonstrate a step forward in the NFL observing and researching its players.
    Another way these RFID’s in shoulder pads could be used is by the NFL handing these statistics to third party to analyze. This could be done both as a platform for entertainment, as well as for further research into how players hit. These statistics could be used as a medium for entertainment through platforms such as ESPN. One well known segment that ESPN does is known as “Sports Science”. In “Sports Science”, the director, John Brenkus, analyzes the scientific side of sports. With these RFID chips embedded in shoulder pads during the games, Brenkus can do exponentially more than simply observing a single player with an RFID chip in a lab. Embedding RFID chips into shoulder pads is just the beginning for programs like “Sports Science”.
    Although these RFID chips can be used for further research into concussions and more future research the NFL plans on delving into, this can also be used for medical reasons. After a player may have been shaken up on a play, someone can be observing these RFID chips to see the impact of a hit, and possibly the afflicted area. This can also create new jobs in the NFL. Analysts would be hired to check in on these figures for athletes. These analysts would most likely be hired by teams, rather than the NFL itself.
    In conclusion, the NFL embedding RFID chips into shoulder pads is a step in the right direction in many ways. Not only will these RFID chips help the NFL go deeper in its research regarding concussions, and possibly CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Embedding RFID chips into athlete’s pads will also help create new platforms for some analysts to dive further, and emulate shows like “Sports Science”. In conclusion, the NFL putting RFID chips into pads will not only help the league and its players, but it will also prove to create new job opportunities and media opportunities for fans.


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