I would like to go to the new $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in Texas to watch the movie The Matrix. I have no interest in watching a football game there. Full disclosure, I have never liked the Dallas Cowboys. I think it has something to do with a mean cousin who loved them and harassed me about it in grade school.
In a classic egomaniacal move Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones ordered a ginormous jumbotron that hangs 90 ft above the playing field spanning from one twenty yard line to the other, right in the likely flight path of many punts.
How big is this oversized HDTV? Its display screens are 159 by 72 feet and it weighs 432 tons. Talk about surround sound.
And talk about a design flaw. Their user experience expert must have been so focused on delivering an incredible experience for the fans attending the game that they completely forgot that the stadium was going to host actual football games.
How big a design error is this? You judge.
Christopher Moore, an Assistant Professor of Physics at Longwood University in Farmville, VA, blogged about the physics of punting on ilovephysics.com:
” A study in 1985 of 238 punts made by 24 different NFL punters found that punters typically don’t punt for maximum distance, but to balance distance with hang time. The study found that on average, NFL punters kick the ball at an angle of 57 degrees with an average speed of 60 mph. With these parameters, a NFL punt would have an average height of about 90 feet, which is exactly the height off the ground of the Cowboy’s scoreboard. Air resistance would probably decrease this number 10-15%, though. More important, though, were parameters for “elite” kicks. An elite kicker can boot the ball with speeds up to 70 mph. At the same average angle, that results in a height over 120 feet.”
The physics of kicking a football suggest that the jumbotron will be hit a lot. This is a huge design screw up and Jerry Jones should be forced to move the HDTV screen into his home where I am sure it would easily fit without getting in the way.
But no, this is the NFL where team owners rule the roost. Jerry Jones petitioned (probably more like told) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that a new rule would have to be created to accommodate punts that will inevitably hit the video screen. And it was done. The NFL announced the following new rule:
“If a ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam or any other object, the ball will be dead immediately, and the down will be replayed at the previous spot”
That the rule will come into play is no longer hypothetical. In the third quarter of the first exhibition game played in the new venue between the Cowboys and the Titans, the backup punter for Tennessee, A.J. Trapasso, hit the jumbotron squarely and the ball bounced straight down. The punt was ruled dead and the down replayed.
During warm-ups before the game Trapasso had hit the screen monstrosity three times and the Titan’s starting punter, Craig Hentrich had nailed it a dozen times.
You would think they could have figured this out during the design process. There is no room for ego in good design and I still don’t like the Dallas Cowboys.