What if I told you there was a way to make your job easier and to make your work decisions more precise — and therefore better?
You would probably jump at the chance, right?
But unless you are one of 32 people in the world, you are not an NFL head coach. And if you were an NFL coach, you would be fighting hard against such a thing.
And you’d be winning. Or at least succeeding in your fight.
Here’s the upshot: at the NFL owners meetings, the league’s competition committee proposed changing existing rules to allow coaches to see video replays on tablets during games instead of just still images, as is allowed now.
The coaches seem to know almost unanimously that this would help them make better decisions. But it would make their decisions … too easy? So they don’t want it?
Yes, pretty much. Here is Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s take on the subject, as quoted by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert:
“If I’m looking at the video, I’ll never be wrong. I’m against it because I think it takes some of your true coaching skills away and it makes it even for everybody, for good coaches and bad coaches.”
He added later in the story: “It takes coaching and all of the things out of this when you go and sit there and watch it. Anyone can do that.”
Well, that’s interesting. Zimmer and other coaches are worried that giving everyone the edge of using video would make the playing field too level, so to speak. So they helped shoot down the bylaw change swiftly and vociferously.
Seifert describes the level of angst expressed by coaches to be “an amusing journey into the deep but occasionally absurdist minds of the top 32 football coaches in the world.”
But I kind of — kind of — see why they reacted this way.
Say there was a specific program designed to allow every member of the sports media write DEVASTATINGLY INTERESTING BLOG POSTS. How would I, someone who delivers on that promise at least 23 percent of the time already, feel about everyone suddenly having access to such a tool?
I might not like it.
If suddenly anyone could do your job just as well as you could — or at least you perceived that to be the case — you might feel threatened, too, just as NFL coaches apparently are.
That said, there’s another (perhaps more rational) school of thought that says an advancement that provides an edge to coaches won’t be applied equally by all of them. Some would inevitably benefit more from the use of video, and perhaps those who benefited more would be the coaches who are already skilled at diagnosing what an opponent is doing and counteracting it.
It’s not like the game has stood still since its invention. Tablets replaced black and white printouts a few years ago. Early coaches had no pictures to look at, period. Technology is merely a tool; it’s still up to humans, by and large, to use it to their benefit (or detriment).
Just not NFL coaches. Seifert quotes several other coaches, including 32-year-old Rams coach Sean McVay, in being just fine relying on pictures instead of videos.
Maybe their analog stance will become a broader trend in thinking about technology this way: Just because we have it doesn’t mean it’s in our best interests to use it.