Breaking the Plane: What is a touchdown?

A Lions player once described it to me like this: He said, the Goal line is a 1 foot wide stripe running across the field at both ends. Imagine now if you will some magical lights, each of which are 1/10,000 of an inch in diameter. Theses lights are lined up side by side across the field at the edge of the goal line on the field side. What makes them magical is that they can shine through anything except a football. If one light goes out that is a touchdown. When that happens at that moment up goes arms of the referee. Touchdown, 6 points scored. Whatever happens after that should never make any difference, a touchdown has been scored. If for instance at the time when just 2 inches of the ball has crossed the line and ball carrier fumbles it should not matter. 6 points has already been scored.

True as long as the ball is in the possetion of an offensive player when the light goes out.

Yes that is the definition of a touchdown in gridiron football codes.

Sometimes hard to call under a pile of people.

Its interesting we define forward progress of the ball in relation to the ball but we define whether play is in or out of bounds by whether a part of the body of the person posessing the ball is in contact with the field of play or something out of bounds otherwise the play is also dead if a loose ball hits something out of bounds…


Biggest problem with your magic lights is that a player can be down before the ball crosses the goal line. We see that every game in all parts of the field. Players knee touches and then he reaches forward.


I think the assumption is that the knee isn’t down before crossing the plane of the goal line. It’s not a TD if the knee is down prior to crossing the plane as you say.

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What is a touch down? I’m not sure, but I know what isn’t. Anytime a ticat return goes off for a big play TD return, a referee will throw a flag negating said touchdown.


I suppose it would help the review guys identify exactly when the ball crossed the plane and from there if the ball carrier was down prior.

So what do you do if there are no good vid shots and the sensor says TD? With the fumble recovery, in that pile up, for all you know the Dline recovered the ball and gathered it back to him and at that point it crossed the line.

Perhaps in the future the playing surface, players etc will all be covered in nanobots and computers will make the call on forward progress? Vid review and refs would then determine ball control?

The ops idea could develop into something. I mean, we all knew at one time that personal computers were just a fantasy that only the rich could dream of. After all how many would even consider building a house just to contain their calculator?

I’m pretty sure your wildly futuristic suggestion will become a reality at some point. Maybe not nanobots but certainly sensors in the ball and probably uniforms and ultra high precision lasers.

Tennis is getting closer to being fully regulated by computer and is probably the closest sport to full regulation. Baseball is getting there and balls and strikes won’t be called by humans forever. Football is sure to follow at some point so seemingly crazy suggestions today will be the norm in the future.

I have no doubt some fans will be screaming at the computers in the future, just as they vent on refs today.


Picture this…Players ingest the nanobots which have their own unique signal. Fans can use a VR suit and purchase access to any players signal for a real game day experience! You get to see, hear and feel everything during the game from his perspective. The players would get a commission from everyone that buys their signal. SMS exempt of course!!!

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