The Tennessee Titans have become the first professional football team to get permission to record practices using drones thanks to a Federal Aviation Administration exemption granted last week.
Don’t expect to see football televised from a UAV’s vantage just yet, however — the National Football League, as an entity, has permission to fly drones over empty stadiums only.
The FAA, in the Titan’s exemption, writes: “Operations for the purpose of closed-set motion picture and television filming are not permitted.”
The Titans have had a mixed history with drones. In March of this year, a state senator proposed banning drones over stadiums. At the time, James Weaver, a lawyer for the Titans, remarked that flying a drone above a stadium filled with 60,000 people would be “insane. “You ought to be able to attend [a Titan’s game] and not get your head knocked off by a drone falling out of the sky,” he said.
Attorneys and the NFL emphasize safety, of course. What they don’t emphasize — but is likely coming down the line — is making sure that if a drone would ever be authorized to hover above a stadium and record the game it’s slapped with the NFL logo.
“You ought to be able to attend [a Titan’s game] and not get your head knocked off by a drone falling out of the sky,” Weaver said.
Attorneys and the NFL emphasize safety — because that’s their whole thing — but that may just be air cover to make sure that any camera without an NFL logo affixed to it is swatted out of the sky. Better blimps than nothing, this thinking goes, better nothing than bootleg broadcasts.
Still, football teams are often early adopters because their sport is logistically complicated and hard to simulate. Many teams have already made virtual reality training part of daily workouts and many also use the Oculus Rift to help players review plays from a first-person perspective.