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Technology Q&A with the NFHS

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As is the case in any industry, change and evolution in football have sparked the need for constant examination and discussion of the rules that govern the sport. And anytime improvements are made that affect how teams prepare for and play the game, a tradeoff is often necessary in order to ensure no team gains an unfair advantage over its opponents simply because it has greater access to advanced technology.

American Football Monthly discussed some of the issues related to technological advances in football - and how they might affect the rules, competition and student-athletes - with National Federation of State High School Associations assistant director Jerry Diehl.

AFM: Has the Federation discussed the potential for allowing helmet-to-sideline communications in high school football. And if so, what is the status of such discussion?

NFHS: The issue was reviewed by our Football Rules Committee in January 1999 and it was not passed out of subcommittee. Their concerns right now are the cost factor and whether or not it is something that is needed in the interscholastic game. One of the things that we look at are the traditions of the game, and their feeling right now is that that doesn't fit with the tradition. Secondly, is the balance between offense and defense - can you use this on the defensive side of the ball, etc. There are a number of questions that would need to be answered. But at this time there is almost no interest at all in permitting that.

AFM: What are some rulings that the NFHS has recently made regarding the use of computers during football games?

NFHS: We have a rule prohibiting the use of computers or film (to access or retrieve information) during a ball game. They can be used after the ball game while viewing film for scouting and that kind of thing. The state associations also are restrictive in what they permit in the way of computers and scouting techniques. Computers can be used during the course of the game for keeping statistics, but not from the standpoint of scouting an opponent - playing tendencies, that kind of thing.

AFM: Are there any recent or pending rulings that deal specifically with football and technology?

NFHS: There is nothing on the horizon that would be technology-related. We are still holding fast to the rule that we have about the reviewing of videotapes or TV broadcasts (by coaches or officials) during a contest. I think it is something that we will not see happen on the interscholastic level.

AFM: Why?

NFHS: Simply because of the cost factor. Once you open that door, then it's going to cause those who do not have the funds to make do with less in some other area. It's not that they are trying to hold anyone back. It's just a fairness issue.


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