NFL And NCAA College Football Playoffs Games Need First Down Laser Systems Now


NFL And NCAA College Football Playoffs Games Need First Down Laser Systems Now

The NFL is down to the last month of the 2014 regular season and college football rivalry weekend has both fan and playoff consequences so the importance of getting first down and goal line calls correct by officials is paramount to a fair and impartial game outcome. I cannot speak for the many Sports Techie community blog readers and followers across the nation and world but for me, marking the correct spot of the ball has become a serious problem that not only affects the results of the game but causes teams to miss the playoffs and coaches to be fired. I believe this must be fixed with a sports technology product. Sports Techie has been reporting about the story of First Down Lasers for over a year now and hope that our continued influence can make a game changing difference with the powers that be in order to officially use their green line which will virtually eliminate the risk of human error by a ref.

NFL And NCAA College Football Playoffs Games Need First Down Laser Systems Now - Sports Techie blog.
NFL And NCAA College Football Playoffs Games Need First Down Laser Systems Now – Sports Techie blog.

First Down Line
First Down Line was invented over ten years ago by Alan Amron and invested in by broadcast legend, Pat Summerall. Amron’s vision to keep the chain gang moving every ten yards via a reliable and efficient sports tech system is something that is certainly needed in the sport of football. The unofficial yellow line we see on television allows fans to see the first down mark, or line to gain, but it has no merit.

The First Down Laser Systems in-stadium graphics green line uses an end-zone projector and laser-embedded yardsticks to project the first down line onto the field so any official, fan in attendance or viewer on a mobile digital device can see the precise yardage necessary to earn an extra four downs or score a touchdown. The green line lasers are 6-7 inches off the ground and aimed down; adding a layer on top of water and snow, projected from sideline flag sets. First Down Laser integrates with a wristband to interface with the solution and alerts the ring on the refs knuckle where to place the ball correctly at the tip of the football.

Amron has collected data that proves their instant laser line measurement can save at least 3 minutes per measurement. The NFL and NCAA can save valuable time during three or four hour games by having the ref turn the line on and off instantly.

He is meeting with the FXFL CEO and commissioner this week, and will be demonstrating to the CFL in Toronto Canada in January in front of the CBS morning news with Charlie Rose show.

FBI Special Agent retired Mike Burns is quoted as saying, “Each week I watch usually 8 different NFL games. I have the NFL package with Directv, so I see them all if I want. I also watch some college football. At least 25 times per week I see officials spotting the ball wrong or arguing about spotting the ball. TV replay shows something and the officials seem to mess it up, over and over and over…

With the First Down laser line on the field, they could quickly get it right, 100% of the time. A glance at a monitor or even paying attention on the field of play, I believe they’d instantly see if the ball crossed the green laser line.

Every week I see coaches get totally pissed off because the ball was marked incorrectly. Sometimes, it changes the game outcome.

I’m at a loss for words to explain why they won’t adopt First Down Laser line systems now”.

From a NCAA official’s terminology:

“Spotting the Ball”

  1. The placement of the football at the conclusion of a down.
  2. Often referred as the location of the ball when a player makes contact with the ground, other than a hand or foot.
  3. The “spot” marking of where the football was at the point the player stepped into the “out of bounds” area.

“Line to Gain”

  1. The vertical in which the nearest tip of the football must cross to be awarded a new set of downs, or
  2. Touchdown


The “spotting of the ball” does not determine whether there is a new set of downs awarded. However, the result of the placement is a determinant of whether a first down has been achieved.

The correct positioning of the “Line to Gain” (Chains), as you know is critical.

You can often tell the level of experience and professionalism of a crew by where the “initial” ball spots are placed. In example, A kickoff return, a punt return or the placement of a kick out of bounds will usually start from a hash line. The thought behind this is that when you place the tip of the ball on the trailing edge of the hash line, given a proper distance chain (of 10 yards), the leading stake of the Line to Gain will always fall on the leading edge of the new hash mark. With NFL, NCAA and some high school officials, you will notice very few measurements as a result of this. A GOOD white hat simply has to look and see if the ball breaks the plane of the leading hash line (or not) and rule accordingly. My crews always strive for little to no measurements.

However, there is the time a measurement may be needed – when the ball is not close to a hash line. A little inside information for you. You can often tell if a crew is possibly influencing a spot. A good Umpire (U) will strive to HAND the ball to the Head Linesman (H). Why? Because, while the (H) may know the vicinity of a first down, they are supposed to charge into the spot WITHOUT looking back. If the ball is handed to the Line Judge (L), this could be a weakness on the part of the (U) as the perception is the (L) could influence the positioning of the ball as they have view of the Line to Gain stake. This does not mean it that if the ball is given to the (L) that there is something fishy, simply because the ball could become dead on the (L) side of the field.

Where the error could occur is when the white hat (R) has to eyeball the position of the ball (not near a hash line) in relevance to the leading stake of Line to Gain.

As an alternative to arguing “spotting the ball,” perhaps direct the attention to “accurate measurement of the Line to Gain.” You will gain respect from the industry for knowing the terminology. You may have some “old school” officials that will likely fight you on the implementation out of mere principal. You will likely have a greater resistance if you continue to give the impression that you are “accusing” them of “bad ball spotting.”

I, personally, welcome the technology. With the quality of the caliber of chain crews that I have worked with, this would be a valuable aid!

Let me know if you have any questions and best wishes on this project. ####


Sports Techie, I hope the football game you care about does not come down to a shady first down spot or worse yet, an incorrectly called TD.

When you think about the advancements in sports technology and how it has been successfully integrated into the game by FIFA at the World Cup and Premier League with goal line technology (glt), by the NBA, MLB and NHL via a centralized instant replay center, and by tennis with Hawkeye challenges, isn’t using First Down Lasers a no-brainer.

The best time to make this so is for the 2015 season. I feel Roger Goodell needs to step down as NFL commish or else immediately change his ways and modify his daunting power. The Ray Rice ruling yesterday sends the NFL a strong message that they cannot make up laws and need to be transparent with rulings. Nor should owners back archaic ways of enforcing rules by referees who continue to make critical mistakes every week such as incorrectly marking the ball resulting in unearned first downs and game breaking touchdowns. Imagine if this happens during Super Bowl 49.

By introducing game changing sports tech components that help to even the playing field, in this case, First Down Laser, the NFL can show the world they plan on staying on top as the best league in the world. Perhaps the NCAA will beat them to the punch.

Either way, bring in a First Down Laser title sponsor which makes the league more make revenue and do it now.

See y’all later in Seattle and here in Atlanta.

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Tags: Sports Techie, sports technology, sports tech