How the NFL is using tablets to call plays

As most of you know I am a big Minnesota Vikings fan and in general a big fan of football. I read with interest how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were utilizing iPads to give the team and its coaching staff a competitive edge.

The Bucs actually issued 90 iPads at the start of training camp in August. That’s a $55,000 investment just on hardware. Usually there are 80 players invited to NFL training camps but because of the league sanctioned lockout and the NFL player’s union decertifying over a long term collective bargaining dispute the 32 member teams of the NFL could not hold organized team activities and mini-camps. The league allowed teams to have some extra players to get through the four exhibition games in hopes of avoiding injuries to star players.

So you have to think that some of these fringe players would be handed an expensive piece of technology for just a few weeks. To me this signaled that the Bucs were really serious about changing the way they operated the team on the field.

To help you understand the complexity of a football playbook you just have to look at its size. It is as big as the telephone book. Granted there is no small print and everything is graphically but team try to institute anywhere from 250 plays to 400 plays during a given season, which lasts 20 games (including four pre-season games) and, if you are a good team, playoffs.

The iPad also enabled players to watch game videos and future opponent videos along with diagrams of plays.

The Buccaneers are transitioning to tablets in a sense to save time and hope to improve the performance of their players. For example, players no longer have to check out DVD discs to review game footage or meet in a group setting to watch a break down of next week’s opponent’s defensive tactics.

Believe it or not there is also a security risk to paper-based playbooks. They could get into the wrong hands. And, if you think that NFL teams are not spies; think again.

The New England Patriots were recently heavily fined and were forced to forfeit a first round draft selection as punishment for secretly videotaping opponent’s practice sessions before games. When a player gets cut from a team they are always asked to bring their playbooks with them to meet the coach delivering the bad news. If the plays are on a tablet and that tablet is stolen, lost or misplaced the entire contents can be wiped away with the push of a button.

How has it worked so far for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Well they snubbed their toe in game one losing the perennial door mats theDetroit Lions, but in game win the Bucs orchestra a come from behind win against my beloved Vikings in Minnesota.

Now the question I ask is why haven’t the Vikings spent $55,000 on tablets for its players?

One quick hit before I go. The Sharp Galapagos tablet line is now dead. Well almost dead, Sharp is keeping the 7-inch model for reasons only known to them. I never liked the name Galapagos. I have no clue what Sharp was thinking in the first place getting into the tablet market and secondly giving it a name that was a stinker from the start. When you consider that the Sharp Aquos display technology brand is so well-received you have to wonder why they did not brand its tablet Aquos. From sharp minds may come Sharp products, but not brand names?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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