SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
May 21, 1990
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May 21, 1990


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In the second period, after Boston defenseman Glen Wesley tripped and fell facedown, Hunter, an inveterate cheap-shot artist, skated over and slammed the Bruin player's face into the ice, leaving him dazed, with an ugly cut on his left cheek. Minutes later Hunter struck again, this time against Bruin center Craig Janney. After Janney scored a goal in Boston's 4-1 win, Hunter viciously blindsided him with his elbow and sent him to the ice, where he lay prone for several minutes.

Andy vanHellemond, the NHL's top referee, missed both calls; the two linesmen couldn't have whistled Hunter for a penalty even if they had seen his misdeeds because they're not empowered to call roughing or elbowing penalties. As previously suggested in this space (SCORECARD, April 23), the league needs more than one referee to police the game.


If you could see through the eyes of Texas A&M Quarterback Lance Pavlas, well, you had only to be at the Aggies' spring practice. In a joint venture with the university's human-performance lab, A&M coaches had Pavlas wear a revolutionary eye-tracking unit on his helmet during noncontact passing drills. The device produced videotapes showing not only Pavlas's field of vision at all times but also where his eyes were focused at any moment.

"If you ask players to verbalize what they see and do, you're apt to get inaccurate information," says lab director Charles Shea, a kinesiologist who along with some A&M colleagues invented the tracking unit. "The eyes move so quickly that it's nearly impossible for someone to process all he sees into memory. With eye tracking, you can monitor the sequence of events a quarterback goes through in analyzing a defense or selecting a receiver."

Photoelectric sensors built into the helmet's face mask monitor the quarterback's eye motion as infrared light is bounced off his eyes. This data and the field-of-vision image captured by a miniature video camera mounted atop the helmet are sent by radio signal to a computer. The computer then superimposes onto the video intersecting lines showing exactly where the quarterback was looking. Coaches go over the video to teach the quarterback where he should have looked.

Shea, who believes his unit could help athletes in many sports, including baseball and tennis, will refine the device this summer. A&M's football team will use it again in fall practice both for quarterbacks and for linebackers, who need to learn to pick up visual clues given by the offense.

Pavlas hopes the eye-tracking unit doesn't become the bane of his existence. "It's easy to say you're looking in the right places," he says, "but now the coach has proof."

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