How Technology has Changed Football

Ah, football season. The leaves are changing, the weather is getting colder, and it’s time to clean up space on your DVR and make sure you have enough beer and pizza stocked for the weekends.

As a cherished American pastime, football has been around for decades. The game itself has undergone many changes throughout the year, as well as how we watch the game and interact with the teams. So let’s take a moment to recognize all the technological advancements that have helped keep one of our favorite sports up with the times.

The Magical Yellow Line

See that yellow line there? That signifies how far the players have to get the ball for it to be a first down. Wait a minute…how do they keep moving that yellow line down the field after every 1st down? Your secret it out, NFL. The line is computer generated!

Since 1998, when Sportvision debuted its “1st and Ten System”, fans everywhere have celebrated the magic behind the yellow ‘first down’ line. A computer software is used to automatically display the line 10 yards from the spot of the newly established first-down. Pretty simple-but pretty cool.

Instant Replay

Ahhh! Fumble! “Ruling on the field is being challenged, play is under review.” Instant Replay! Another seemingly simple idea, but a lot goes into the technology behind this. First, dozens of cameras line the football field, tracking the ball wherever it goes. That footage is then recorded, stored, and saved in a computer, compiled play-by-play, and able to be replayed to the officials on the field as well as to every single viewer at home. And can be shown in slow-motion with yellow circles drawn all over the screen by the announcers. “Ruling on the field is reversed; player’s knee was down prior to the ball coming out.” Again, pretty cool.

Helmets and Pads

Most people wonder how the athletes are able to stay healthy throughout an entire 16-game season of hard hits, tackles, and sacks. Drastic improvements have been made to the league’s helmets and pads over the past 50 years to make this a safer sport. Early football helmets were litte more than leather coverings worn on the head like a hat. With players getting bigger, stronger, and faster every year, constant technological updates must be made in order to maintain a team’s health.


There are now headsets built into the quarterback’s helmet which allows him to communicate with the coach on the sideline. This little trick enables plays to be called much faster, more efficiently and effectively to keep the game going faster and the defense on their toes. This all leads to safer, quicker, more entertaining games of football for all the fans.

So spend your weekend relaxing on the couch or at a sports bar with friends enjoying one of America’s favorite games, and look forward to the day when we will all get to watch football games as 3-D holographic projections. That day might be closer than you think!

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