How iPads are changing the NFL

Discussion in 'iPad' started by *LTD*, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009

    How iPads are changing the NFL

    Tampa, Florida (CNN) -- In the halls of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice facility, players can be seen carrying iPads everywhere they go.
    They're not goofing off or taking a break, it's part of their weekly football practice.

    The Bucs are one of two NFL teams, along with the Baltimore Ravens, that have purchased iPads for their players and coaches to use instead of the standard playbook. Baseball and hockey leagues have also taken notice of the advantages of mobile technology.

    Bucs players no longer need to haul paper-filled binders and stacks of DVDs from practice to home in order to continually prepare for game day.
    While there are still NFL restrictions on how computer tablets can be used, these devices are slowly starting to change the way professional teams operate, offering high-quality video and Internet connectivity almost anywhere.
    Just before this season, the Bucs moved the team's playbook , a huge three-ring binder, into a custom app on the tablet. It plays NFL films used to study upcoming opponents, says general manager Mark Dominik.
    "It was a smashing success for our players. They loved it," he said.
    The team printed paper playbooks as a backup this year, but Dominik says next year, "We're going green" -- no paper play books.

    The Bucs first developed a customized application on the iPad as a draft tool to allow coaches to watch college games while evaluating players involved in the draft, said head coach Raheem Morris.
    "I was able to watch college players on the iPad while in the car or in the hotel," Morris said.

    After the success of the draft tool app, the Bucs' owners approved the purchase of 150 iPads and 90 were handed out to players and coaches. They were loaded with the Bucs' newly updated custom application.
    "Everyone loves this, man. It's very helpful," said Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

    But don't expect to see the tablets on the sidelines of games, in locker rooms or in the coaches' booth. NFL rules prohibit the use of any electronic computers, tablets or recording devices within 90 minutes of kickoff.

    "Polaroid-type cameras" are the only device allowed to be used during a game, according to NFL rules. The cameras capture high angle still images of the field, which are printed on paper near the players' benches on the field, giving the teams a different view of what their opponents are doing on the field.
    NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says the league is "strategically holding back" on technology advancements.

    "We try to keep as much of the human element in the game," he said. In addition, he said, the NFL's strategy is to keep competition fair among all the teams.

    Even if the NFL allowed computer tablets on the sidelines, it's unlikely that Apple's iPads would be used, because the league's major sponsor Motorola has a tablet, the Xoom.

    Motorola tablets not selling

    With 11 million iPads recently sold, according to Apple's financial report, app developers are scrambling to get the attention of young professional athletes who are accustomed to Apple products.

    One of those developers, Bloomberg Sports, decided to give iPads to professional baseball players so they could review its newly developed app, "Pitch Review," created exclusively for professional baseball players.
    "We didn't have to," said Bill Squadron with Bloomberg Sports. "Because every player had an iPad."

    The front office management of 19 out of 30 baseball clubs have adopted apps like Pitch Review, which features statistics, averages and video clips that can be customized.

    The National Hockey League is also utilizing mobile technology, allowing its live games to be broadcast through paid subscriptions to NHL GameCenter Live on mobile devices including tablets.

    But not everyone in professional sports has immediately embraced the technology.

    "Our dinosaurs have been our coaches," said Dominik. "(They) are older and used to the more traditional way of doing things."
    The Bucs' linebacker coach, Joe Baker, admitted he was "a little skeptical" when the team started using iPads. His concerns were rooted in a past experience, when another team he worked for started using laptops. At the time, he said, it was a poor integration of technology and the team's needs. Today, he admits things have changed.
    "To have all that information at your fingertips accessible and convenient," said Baker. "It's a godsend."

    Baker and the other coaches said they believe the iPads have helped improved their players' study habits. Morris points out that the players' motivation was already there, the technology has just helped them capitalize on it.
    "At the end of the day these guys want to be great, so they want to study their opponents," said Morris. "So they have the ability to be (great) and that's the desire that makes them watch it."

    Bucs linebacker Geno Hayes says the easy access to watching plays has created a kind of addiction.
    "I use it on a daily basis, sometimes my girlfriend gets mad at me because I'm so into it," Hayes said. "I'm watching films all day."


    A couple of things to note here.

    First, this isn't some everyday promotion of an Apple product, it's an endorsement by Major League Football right smack in the middle of CNN, while mentioning that despite Motorola's affiliation with the League, Moto tablets aren't selling.

    When a high profile sports organization with tons of mindshare pans your product like that (even indirectly) via a major news outlet (or the news outlet editorializing the matter and attaching it themselves to the article, effectively piggybacking it) it's not good news. This is how Apple gets their Platinum mindshare: when major sport figures, stars, and the visible jet-set run with Apple gear, talk about them, and flash them around. Break into this segment of the market and you're golden. Get locked out of it, and your brand-building efforts are half in the grave.

    Second, it still boggles the mind that Google couldn't translate their Android share into tablet share. Could it be that although most consumers need a phone and sometimes even an Android junker will do, when it comes to an expensive tablet they're that much more discriminating? Are consumers not willing to "put up with" Android on a tablet? Just how much of Android's smartphone share is based on low end, cheap Android devices?

    Now we can ask these question and speculate ad nauseum, but the facts are still what they are. With possibly one exception (for which there aren't any sales figures yet), it would appear that the market has bypassed Android tablets almost entirely, while the industry is looking to Microsoft for a possible answer to what Apple has already nailed from Day 1.
  2. palpatine, Nov 13, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2011

    palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    Interesting. Thanks for posting that along with your comments.

    In my opinion, there isn't really a significant difference between tablets in terms of hardware. I happen to like the design of the iPad myself, but on paper, I could see why someone would prefer an Android tablet. For this reason, I think the Xoom is a fine device. It is good-looking, and while it was priced excessively high in the beginning, now is a bit more reasonable.

    In my opinion, it is the OS and apps holding back Android tablets. Are you going to receive the latest updates (Honecomb and now Ice Cream Sandwich)? Are there apps that will let you do what you want to do (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)? Are the developers going to be around improving and updating the apps? Are the apps going to be full of malware?

    These are basic questions that I still don't know the answer to (EDIT: it appears that Netflix finally did something last month, and Hulu did the month before, but it is this kind of lag that causes uncertainty). With the iPad, I have everything from basic offerings like Netflix to obscure apps directly related to my field of research.

    Seeing tablets in the hands of the rich and famous is important, but more important is seeing it in the hands of friends, family, neighbors, and on the street. Seeing them actually use it gives you an idea of all the possibilities. Using Android is hard (in my opinion) and no one has convinced me why I should give up on a company that answers all the questions I posed above for one that doesn't.
  3. Bluemeanie1976 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 1, 2009
    Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
    So they are using iPads, rather than play books?

    (Can you hear that, RIM?)

  4. Ironworker808 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2009
    Unfortunately, having an iPad isn't helping Greg Olson (Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator) with his suck ass play calling.

    I first read about the Bucs doing this during Training Camp/Preseason.

    The feature the players were raving about the most was the ability to watch opponent game film from any team with just a couple of taps. That and the portability. Being able to have it with them everywhere they went was a big big plus. Much more convenient that hauling around a phone book sized stack of papers.
  5. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    doesn't surprise me and i think eventually we will see tablets on the sidelines.

    look at the airlines and how many of them are starting to use iPad or other tablets, its bound to happen because its more efficient.
  6. jake921660 macrumors regular

    Aug 2, 2008
    its funny how they say they are going green when they just purchased 150 ipads. the non recyclable waste from these is going to be a lot more than binders with paper in them. especially if they plan on upgrading every 1-2 years.
  7. Hammie macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2009
    Wash, DC Metro
    I've been seeing iPads a lot more lately.

    I enjoy watching 'House Hunters' and have been seeing more and more realtors using them when walking clients through properties. I have also seen them in a number of TV shows like CSI and I think Burn Notice once or twice.

    I'm not surprised by this.
  8. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Interesting quote from the article:

    Just as with the airlines, sports' movement to tablets happened before the iPad came along to make it even more economically appealing.

    An example is the HUDL app, which has been used for years by teams to create custom videos and playlists for their coaches and players, which could be viewed on the road. Toshiba even sponsored them with Windows touch tablets.

    Players for it are now available on the iPad and on Android devices.

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