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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 09:02am
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Electronic equipment

We worked a small USA invitational tournament this past weekend. A question came up about the use of electronic equipment.

4.7.C.5
No electronic equipment, to include cell phones, pagers, etc., are allowed to be worn or carried on to the playing field.

RS11 COMMUNICATION / ELECTRONIC DEVICES

Communication / electronic devices, including audio / video equipment, are not allowed on the playing field. ...Electronic score-books, however, are permitted for use by base coaches.

Our first debate revolved around the RS comment that electronic score-books are permitted for use by the base coaches. We had a small group of umpires maintain that this means the devices could NOT be used in the dugout. My position is that the coaches cannot stop keeping score when their team is on defense and that the RS provides the exception for a device that CAN be brought onto the field. This faction argues that the device would have to be left outside the dugout when the team is not at bat. I find this to be poor interpretation and defies proper logic.

As a follow on discussion, I posed the question of what constitutes the "playing field". Several umpires claim that the playing field includes the dugouts as they feel they have authority over what might be happening in said dugouts.

2.1 The Playing Field
The playing field is the area within which the ball may be legally played and fielded. There shall be a clear an unobstructed area between the foul lines and within the radius of the prescribed fence distances from home plate.

Thus, my opinion is that the playing field does not include the dugouts.

Next, there was the question of the device being used by one team. It was being used to maintain the lineups and serve as a score-book. What was not clear was if the device had the ability to record and/or "communicate" with other devices. Second hand information to me was that when asked if the device was a score-book, the answer was yes; when asked if it could be used as a cell phone or recording device, the question went unanswered. Apparently, "apps" can be installed on various devices that can serve to keep score of a game, but the device is not a dedicated electronic score-book.

Finally, during the championship game, one team mounted what I was told was a "go pro" to the backstop. There was also a cell phone mounted right next to it. The opposing coach complained about it claiming it was not allowed. We viewed it a parents simply wanting to record their kids' game. I found out later that the device was "live streaming" the game via Facebook.

I am a technology weenie and don't know much about a lot about these new fangled toys. It seems that NFHS rule set is a bit more clear about electronic devices than USA. Just the rule and rule supplement noted above seem to be at least a little bit in conflict. I do view the RS as trying to make the exception for a dedicated electronic score-book to be allowed on the field.

Your experiences and opinions?

Thanx.
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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 09:22am
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The original rule that you quoted before the RS is outdated, to say the least. In my experience, the flood of tablets, go pro cameras, ipads, etc. cannot be stopped. I've coached against travel teams who use the go pro cameras on the backstop. They tend to point them right at the batter. They're definitely not there to gain an unfair advantage in my experience. As you stated, they're used by the coaches to record and improve their players' batting, and they're also good to send the game to grandma and grandpa who cannot make it to the field. I use a small tablet to score my games using the Gamechanger app. iScore is another popular scoring app that is used. It's an amazing thing. For the longest time, I didn't want to use it, but it's an amazing app with amazing stats and information that is valuable to the player and coaching staff. Occasionally, I'm forced to carry my small tablet with me when I'm coaching 3rd base, but it's hard to keep up with everything. The awesome thing about those scoring apps is they allow somebody at home to "watch" the live scoring of the game on their home computer (again, good for grandma and grandpa).

It sounds like to me you were dealing with over-zealous people who were just looking for something to complain about. I will say this about the go-pro cameras-- I predict they'll be outlawed soon because they're already being used to make youtube videos about bad calls, etc.
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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 09:29am
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1) Saying a base coach may have a scoring device on the field is DEFINITELY NOT SAYING not elsewhere like in the dugout. Anyone with that logic would be suspect of confusing any rule.

2) I don't think we have jurisdiction over the outside of the backstop.

3) If the cell phone was being used to give anyone directions or other in-game communication; probably not legal.

4) "youtube videos about bad calls, etc. " are a concern.
Without videos or calls, what would we talk about during the College Softball Championship.
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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 11:19am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CecilOne View Post
1) ...2) I don't think we have jurisdiction over the outside of the backstop...
Agreed. I had the site admin ask me before a recent game if it was permitted to attach a camera to the backstop to livestream the game.

My answer was just what you said. I told her that was an issue for site admin to address, not the umpires.
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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 11:53am
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Much ado about nothing, in my opinion.

The rule(s) exists to stop specific concerns, being 1) a team getting outside communication giving them a competitive advantage, and/or 2) a team having in-game video of the play to gain a competitive advantage. Any use of electronics or technology, whether defined or not currently defined, should be considered in that light, and only with those concerns in mind. Think about the smart watch, data streaming to a smart glasses; it isn't possible to wordsmith a rule covering any future possibility, other than to address what concern or result must be avoided.

The Go Pro or similar, streaming by a hotspot or a phone, is not an issue; UNLESS it is being viewed by team personnel, and/or there is communication with the team with scouting information from that source. If USA SOFTBALL THOUGHT IT WAS ILLEGAL, THEY WOULDN'T STREAM FROM THEIR OWN NATIONALS!!! With a Go Pro and a hotspot mounted on the backstop!!

Whatever device is being used as a scorekeeping device is legal; UNLESS the team member uses it as a communication device, too, during the game. If it is legal on the field, and legal OFF THE FIELD, it is legal in the dugout, when used as a scorekeeping device. Can we, do we, should we, be watching like a hawk to make sure they don't text from that device, or receive a text; IMPOSSIBLE!! Here's my manner of management: "Coach, no problem with that as a scorekeeping device. But, you need to know that if it is used for any outside communication during this game, that it, you, and anyone else that is holding it when that happens, will be ejected from this game."

Once or twice I have had a coach holding his phone running an app to scorekeep receive a call; the look of dismay, immediate concern, and "holding a hot potato" told me he wasn't cheating. We laughed; and moved on. Not an issue, because we didn't make it an issue.
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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 02:14pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tru_in_Blu View Post
RS11 COMMUNICATION / ELECTRONIC DEVICES

Communication / electronic devices, including audio / video equipment, are not allowed on the playing field. ...Electronic score-books, however, are permitted for use by base coaches.
This RS is in desperate need of being updated. Electronic scorebooks were nothing more than software applications on devices like the Pocket PC, Palm, Clie, or other Personal Digital Assistants that were around 15-20 years ago. Nobody nowadays has a true electronic scorebook that isn't resident on a communications device. The RS should simply say that electronic devices on the field and in the dugouts may be used for coaching and scorekeeping purposes only, and cannot be used to communicate or record game action.
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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 03:52pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manny A View Post
This RS is in desperate need of being updated. Electronic scorebooks were nothing more than software applications on devices like the Pocket PC, Palm, Clie, or other Personal Digital Assistants that were around 15-20 years ago. Nobody nowadays has a true electronic scorebook that isn't resident on a communications device. The RS should simply say that electronic devices on the field and in the dugouts may be used for coaching and scorekeeping purposes only, and cannot be used to communicate or record game action.
"may be used for coaching" ??
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Old Mon Jun 05, 2017, 06:21pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CecilOne View Post
"may be used for coaching" ??
That's how NFHS calls it in rules 1-8-6 and 3-6-11.
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Old Tue Jun 06, 2017, 09:42am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CecilOne View Post
"may be used for coaching" ??
Yes. Not everyone with the need for a line up is keeping score. The coach may also keep a list of signals for the batters and pitchers, scouting reports, etc. that were previously kept on paper
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Old Tue Jun 06, 2017, 09:43am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manny A View Post
This RS is in desperate need of being updated. Electronic scorebooks were nothing more than software applications on devices like the Pocket PC, Palm, Clie, or other Personal Digital Assistants that were around 15-20 years ago. Nobody nowadays has a true electronic scorebook that isn't resident on a communications device. The RS should simply say that electronic devices on the field and in the dugouts may be used for coaching and scorekeeping purposes only, and cannot be used to communicate or record game action.
But because some umpire or coach may go off the deep end because it has been removed and someone shows up with one........
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