Lights, camera, action

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Baseball teams can begin using video equipment during game

NFHSLOGO For years television stations have used teasers to promote their local news shows, often promising “film at 11.”
  Soon high school baseball coaches will adopt the same sort of tactic, except their film will actually be a more advanced form of video recording that can — and probably will — be shown anytime and anywhere.
  The National Federation of State High School Associations ruled last month that, beginning in 2015, teams will be permitted to use video monitoring or replay equipment for coaching purposes during games. Previously, Rule 3-3-1 allowed for use of video equipment but not during games for coaching purposes.
  “With advancements in technology, it was extremely difficult for officials to determine if teams were using video replay during games,” Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and educational services, said in a statement. “The committee determined it was the right time to permit teams to use these technological aids if they so choose.”
  How will the rule revision alter the local baseball landscape next spring? Perhaps not as much as one might think.
  Several coaches were already videotaping their players at other times; doing so during games is merely an extension of that. And, in fact, in-game taping wasn’t completely off-limits before —it just couldn’t be done from an on-field vantage point.
  Shepard coach Frank DiFoggio would have his team’s games taped and later put together an instructional package. He watched for “everything — where we were [stationed defensively] when we made an error, what we did [offensively] with runners on base, things like that.”
  Players were free to view anything they wanted, but DiFoggio cited just one instance where an athlete took full advantage of the opportunity.
  “Adam Samad wanted to see every one of the at-bats he had,” DiFoggio said of his former all-area outfielder. “But he was really the only kid that would do that. About two-thirds of the games I taped and I’m [usually] the only one who watched.”
  As for the NFHS revision, few people are surprised it occurred given the proliferation of IPads and other hand-held devices with which scorekeeping and stats updating can be done in rapid fashion.

 “It was probably just a matter of time,” Stagg coach Matt O’Neill said.
  “It’s so hard to monitor,” St. Laurence boss Pete Lotus said, “and umpires have too many other things to worry about.”
  Besides being an obvious teaching tool, video of players in action serves another purpose.
  “We use that tape to send to colleges to evaluate our players,” Brother Rice coach John McCarthy said. “The big picture is what’s best for the kids. I think it’s a good idea [because] the IHSA and national federation are seeing what’s important for kids.”
  One potential drawback, of course, is that it could provide a competitive advantage for someone who was more intent on stealing signs than following his own team’s exploits. However, there is little fear of that becoming a widespread problem.
  “There’s enough other things to worry about in high school baseball,” McCarthy said. “I think overall everyone’s going to do it for the right reasons.”
  “If teams want to use it [improperly], they’ll find a way,” Lotus said. “But it’d be tough to do and I think there’d be very minimal reward.”
  The change in videotaping was one of five rules revisions enacted by the NFHS. Others included the expansion of interference in Rule 2-21 to include follow-through and backswing interference; decreeing that batting helmets must now have a non-glare surface to be consistent with helmets used by defensive players; and adding language that clarifies rules governing foul balls and courtesy runners.
  Softball will also be made to adopt these rules changes in 2015.