How Technology is Elevating the NFL

Although the NFL fundamentally is still played the same as it was when it first started in the 1920’s, tech has transformed the game into constant battle of strategizing. Not only has tech helped players and teams perform at a higher level, technology has helped create a new level of experience for watching the games whether it be at home or in the stadium.

View of the Game within the Game

As you can see in the picture above, technology such as the partnership with Microsoft and NFL has enabled players and coaches to get instant replays of plays on the field so that they can analyze it in real time instead of the next day. Microsoft has also partnered with the NFL to use Microsoft Teams, a collaboration tool, for forms of communication within the NFL. Teams is used often during super bowl planning and logistics which is a yearly event that requires the up most level of communication to have a successful event. So from analyzing plays a few seconds after it happened to planning for one of the biggest events in the world through teams, the partnership between a tech giant like Microsoft and the NFL is a great representation of how the world of sports is only going to get more exciting and safer.

All 32 NFL franchises use the Microsoft Teams platform, a collaborative tool which brings together chat, calling, meetings, files and documents into a single app.

RIFD Transmitters to Track Players

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology has been around since 1973 but over the past 20 years it has truly been utilized to its fullest capacity. RIFD is now seen in building access cards like hotels, in credit cards, and smart phones. With the NFL and game of football becoming more tech centered, RIFD has found itself in the game in places like the shoulder pads and in the football itself! The NFL has partnered with Zebra technologies to use RIFD in the game to tag players with these chips so that there can be a next level of player tracking for not only the players and coaches but also fans. These chips can gather and analyze players speed and accurate positions on the field. There are also about 20 receivers mounted between the upper and lower decks of a particular football stadium, and each of these receivers translates the data collected from the players and sends them to the centralized cloud like Azure or AWS.

Next Gen Stats Powered by AWS

To elevate the game to another level, the NFL partnered with Amazon Web Services, a cloud computing company, to provide in depth machine learning statistics for the games. Most machine learning done in the cloud today is powered by AWS and is why AWS was the most appealing choice for the NFL. The NFL uses Machine Learning from AWS to boost data analytics as seen above and improve the accuracy and speed of game insights like stats. Using Amazon Sagemaker which helps build, train, and run predictive models, the NFL is able to reduce the time to get results from as much as 12 hours to 30 minutes according to AWS. Embracing technology in the NFL has allowed next level of stats such as expected rushing yards, expected yards after catch and route classification as seen below.

The partnership with the NFL and AWS is just the beginning of what is possible by integrating technology in the game.



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