Great idea — wish I’d thought of it. Oh

Published February 2, 2013

With Goal-Line Tech, Soccer Tries Kicking Its Addiction to Human Error,” reads the Wired headline. The story is about how professional soccer is testing out ways to use technology to verify goals.

There are two types of tech being tested. One uses an array of cameras around the goal to detect when the ball (well, at least 25 percent of it) goes through. The other…

GoalRef, a joint German-Danish project, uses a microchip in the ball and a magnetic field around the goals. Once the entire ball has crossed the line, the change in the magnetic field signals a goal.

Neat idea. Wish I’d thought of it. Oh, I did. Eight years ago, back in January 2005 in my USA Today column. From “Good ideas for someone else’s to-do list“:

Football chips

There isn’t a football fan I know who hasn’t been frustrated by the officials’ bad calls. (We Giants fans are, perhaps, particularly sensitive.) Sometimes it’s a bad spot, sometimes it’s an obvious reception ruled incomplete. The instant replay rule was added to reduce that, and it’s worked pretty well, although it leaves some holes — not always being able to challenge the spot of the ball for example.

Of course, we accept that football officials are human, at best, and they make mistakes. But the technology is out there to eliminate at least some of the questions about where the ball is.

Why doesn’t the NFL implant chips into footballs — at either end and in the middle. With sensors along the field, it would be easy to determine exactly where the ball was when the ball carrier hit the ground. (In close calls, I can envision a monitor tied into the sensor network. The ref could view a replay frame-by-frame until he decided the carrier was down, and the screen would say exactly where the ball was at that moment.)

You could take it further and add sensors to the players’ kneepads; that could eliminate any question about when the ball was dead. It’d be a piece of cake for the system to know that Tiki Barber had the ball, that his knee hit the ground here, and that the ball was at the 32 yard line when it did. No arguments about the spot.

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