The longest rush of the NFL playoffs so far -- a 44-yard run by Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott -- was also the fastest. Elliott hit 21.27 miles per hour as he outran two defenders, his top speed as a ball carrier this season.
We only know that statistic because of a tiny chip inside Elliott’s shoulder pads -- a small piece of the National Football League’s aggressive push into advanced data and analytics. The NFL is using technology to track the game and its players like never before. For the first time, all 32 teams have access to chip data throughout the league, providing a snapshot of every player’s location 12 times per second.
And it’s not just the NFL. Every major sports league is counting on data to revolutionize how athletes train and recover -- and how coaches evaluate and prepare for games. But the analytics boom has also produced some thorny questions. Should a player’s privacy factor in? Should the data be used in contract negotiations? And who should share the spoils if broadcasters and sports-gambling companies pay for the information?