Sunday, September 26News That Matters

High Tech Comes to the High School Basketball Court

“Your mentality changes — instead of getting on him with every bad shot, it’s like, OK, let’s work on the next one,” he said.

Whether the New Mexico experiment becomes standard practice depends on each state, as well as assuaging any concerns parents, coaches and schools may have about privacy involving athletes who are mostly minors. If a 16-year-old player goes 0 for 12 from the field and turns the ball over four times in the first half, is it embarrassing to instantly provide those statistics?

Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, cautioned that “we have to remain tethered to essential questions that exist to protect the integrity of the sport as it’s intended to be played, and the age group we’re talking about. We have to weigh the pros and cons.”

Still, she praised the New Mexico experiment as “a great example of how technology can make the experience better for all involved without compromising the integrity of how the sport is played, or providing an advantage to one team or the other.”

The arrangement came together at the last minute, partly because of the uncertainty with Covid-19. After all, the season, normally held in the winter, had already been delayed a couple of months, with an abbreviated schedule.

Once officials scheduled the championships for May 6 to 8 at the University of New Mexico arena, known as the Pit, New Mexico officials began working with Playfly, ShotTracker and corporate sponsors like the New Mexico Gas Company.

Sensors, roughly half the size of a USB flash drive, were inserted into adhesive patches on each player’s jersey and affixed inside the basketballs. Other sensors, each about the size of a two-liter bottle, were placed in the rafters throughout the arena.