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USFL will be chainless this season and will rely on football sensors to measure first downs


Andre Cohen

The USFL will use sensors in play balls to measure first downs in its inaugural season which begins April 16. The sensors will enable “more accurate first down measurements than ever before,” the league said in a tweet.

Referees will not use strings to measure first downs, a departure from NFL and college football. A broadcast of a USFL preseason game on Friday graphics included of the league’s first-down system that seemed similar to the line-judging system in tennis that’s powered by Hawk-Eye’s ball-tracking cameras.

Zebra Technologies has been integrating sensors into NFL balls since the 2016 season in an effort to track data from the league’s Next Gen Stats system. Chips can track location with six-inch accuracy, and while the NFL explored this offseason whether to use chips to see where a ball sailed out of bounds on a punt, it doesn’t. There are no imminent plans to go chainless on melee games. .

“This issue will be discussed every year,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent told SportTechie in February. went down. So his knee may be in one place, but the ball may be in another. So we too would like to get away from the chains. Really, like, we’d like to hang out. But there are other aspects that we just have to keep in mind when working on refereeing. So [we’ll be] working with our officials on how best to evolve to be, say, chainless.

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