From baseball to track and field, the world of sports takes too long to catch up to the world of technology
One of the highlights at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year was the announcement by T-Mobile and Major League Baseball that they were embarking on a project to actually do something about the dilapidated and outdated dugout-to-bullpen telephone lines in major league stadiums. To which I say, “What on earth took them so long?” The sight of managers going to a dugout phone with a cord to get a reliever in the bullpen to warm up has become almost comical in how old-fashioned it is. I have a hard time believing that allegiance to the landline was motivated by security concerns—the fear that an opposing team might be able to access a mobile communication. For one thing, bullpens operate in full view of everyone in the stadium and the opposing team. When a relief pitcher starts to warm up, we can all see him. Thus, it is hard to imagine what classified information is being transmitted from the manager to the bullpen coach. But even so, President Obama has used a Blackberry for the last four years, and “Get the southpaw up and throwing” is not exactly akin to “Send in the SEALs” on the national security level.
I think it simply takes too long for the world of techies and the world of sports to meet. But we have to foster continued mating of the two. If only Steve Jobs had been a major league manager or a football coach. Surely there is a better way in football to measure for a first down than a sideline official using his eye-crometer to randomly put down a stake at what he thinks is the line of scrimmage, then stretching a chain 30 feet long to another stake at the first-down distance, then having to run with that chain all the way across the field and use a chalk line—which itself may or may not be straight (particularly in high school football)—to try to determine whether a first down has been achieved by a quarter of an inch. When the TV audience watching an NFL or a major college game has a better idea of whether a first down was made based on the virtual yellow line used in almost all major football broadcasting, something should clearly be done. Simply adapt the television technology so that it can be used on the field.