The Business Analytics Center at Scheller College of Business recently played a small role in the NFL’s ongoing quest to make football safer.
Just prior to Super Bowl LIII, Georgia Tech hosted the NFL 1st and Future Experience, an annual competition to spur innovation in player health, safety and performance. Sponsored by Arrow, the event included a Punt Analytics Competition, designed to identify rule changes to make the punt safer.
After crowdsourcing data scientists across the United States, more than 150 different proposals were submitted. Four finalists were awarded $20,000 and the opportunity to present their ideas live and on stage at Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center, with the top two winning Super Bowl tickets. Punt Analytics judges included Atlanta Falcons Coach Dan Quinn; Dr. Leigh Ann Curl, head orthopedic surgeon for the Baltimore Ravens & president of the NFL Physicians Society; former NFL player Shawn Springs, CEO of Windpact and the Managing Director of the Georgia Tech Business Analytics Center at Scheller Keith Werle.
"The NFL Punt Analytics Competition aptly demonstrated the real-world impact of innovation, analytics and technology,” said Werle. “It was an honor to participate as Georgia Tech likewise has a long tradition of making a difference through innovation, analytics and technology.”
Two winners walked away with Super Bowl tickets. Alex Wainger of New York City recommended removing the 45-year-old rule that holds the kicking team on the line of scrimmage until the punt. Illinois resident Halla Yang suggested awarding a five-yard bonus on a fair catch, changing the allowed coverage on receptions, and requiring helmet sensors to directly monitor physical deceleration.
“All the competitors brought unique approaches to the problem of concussions on punt plays - and all had excellent analytical approaches and insights,” said Werle. “If the winning changes are implemented, I know they will significantly lower the risk of concussions for NFL players and I am proud Georgia Tech’s Business Analytics Center at Scheller helped play a part in contributing to those innovative and valuable improvements.”