The league is hoping that technology will up the skill level... not to mention the thrills. The NFL tells the Toronto Sun that it plans to conduct a study where footballs will have chips inside to track their flights between the goal posts. If too many successful field goals come from wildly off-center kicks, the league may narrow the uprights to make it more challenging. The tests would be limited to the preseason (ESPN sources also mention Thursday-night regular games), but they could start as soon as 2017.
This isn't the first time the NFL has used smart sports equipment -- it gave players stat-tracking shoulder pads back in 2014. However, this upcoming test may well have a farther-reaching effect. ESPN's contacts hear that the NFL has briefed all its teams on plans to use the chips, and it suggests that the league might use augmented footballs to better detect downs and touchdowns. As such, the NFL's test run could lead to a significant change in the style of play, with fewer field goal attempts and more accurate play calls.