What does Australian Rules Football have to do with American college football? Football Down Under is entering a new technological age, with players wearing small global positioning satellite units strapped to their backs. Every step and heartbeat is recorded and beamed to the coaches' box, where the numbers are monitored in real time on a laptop.
Given the similarities in the bruising physical nature of the two sports, it would seem like only a matter of time before such technology becomes part of the American game.
The Aussies are using the technology in many ways:
When player starts to "red-line" on any given measure during a game, he is replaced by a teammate with fresh legs.
The associated software enables teams to set upper and lower thresholds on each measure for each player, thus allowing the computer to tell a coach when a player is showing signs of fatigue or not working hard enough.
Fitness and conditioning regimes can be developed for each player to replicate game demands and adjust training loads to take account of the work done throughout a season.
Currently, there is one problem: The GPS devices don't work inside domed stadiums, but one team is already in partnership with a university to develop a modified GPS unit that will provide some real-time information without access to satellites.