No More Chain Gang? NFL To Test Optical Tracking for Line-To-Gain Rulings This Preseason

As the NFL looks to introduce new technology, the league will test optical tracking for line-to-gain rulings during the preseason.

While the NFL clearly dominates the sports market in North America and is viewed as one of the greatest leagues in the world, it often lags behind the competition when it comes to embracing technology.

Yet that could change soon, as the NFL will test potentially game-altering technology in 2024.

NFL To Test Optical Tracking for Line-To-Gain Rulings This Preseason

According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the NFL is preparing to test optical tracking for line-to-gain rulings this preseason. Jones also mentions that if the test is successful, the NFL could utilize the technology during the regular season in 2024.

While the introduction of new technology could certainly scare traditional fans of the NFL, the league has a plan in place in case the technology fails. According to Jones, the chain gang would still remain on the field as a back-up to the league’s latest addition.

While other sports are concerned about the pace of play, that hasn’t necessarily been an issue for the NFL. Yet the introduction of optical tracking for line-to-gain rulings would certainly help speed up the game.

According to Jones, the NFL’s competition committee quietly approved the use of optical tracking for the preseason in March. However, as noted previously, the full implementation of the technology during the regular season will depend on the test run during the preseason.

NFL Is Late to the Party As They Join Other Sports in Embracing Technology

While the usage of optical tracking technology is certainly new to the NFL, several other leagues and sports have already embraced it. The NFL is actually late to the technology party, given what sports like tennis and soccer have been utilizing for several years.

In June 2016, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) approved the usage of a video assistant referee (VAR). The VAR is essentially an extra referee that has the ability to view the game at multiple camera angles, allowing it to assist the officiating crew on the field.

In March 2006, the Hawk-eye system was introduced in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournaments. The system was developed by Dr. Paul Hawkins and viewed as a game-changer for the sport. The technology allowed officials to automatically detect where a ball landed on the court, which is obviously vital during matches.

Although baseball is viewed as America’s pastime and a sport on the decline, it’s embraced technology before the NFL — MLB is set to introduce robot umpires as soon as 2024. Given the recent struggles of human umpires in the MLB, it’s clear that the league wants to introduce this technology as soon as possible.

KEEP READING: 5 Calls That May Been Different With Optical Tracking Technology

Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been several games altered by pivotal, incorrect line-to-gain rulings. Therefore, the introduction of optical tracking technology could prove to be one of the most consequential officiating advancements in league history.

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