Sunday, December 27, 2015
Computing came to the Dallas Cowboys
Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys are America's favorite team any more is not important. What the did do was bring electronic computing to football and spawned the computers in other sports. Now if you watch any major football game you can see electronic tablets at the benches of many team. not only for statistics, but to replace the photos normally strewn all over the sidelines.
Prior to joining the Cowboys, Tex Schramm had worked as a CBS Sports executive, helping broadcast the Winter Olympics, where he became aware of and intrigued by the use of computers. He decided that computers could help the Cowboys choose players from the draft, including young athletes other clubs might miss.
"I decided ... that I would have to find an objective method of deciding on the worth of a football player ... I thought we had to find a way to judge players without emotion,” Schramm told Sports Illustrated in 1968. “We used computers to figure scores and standings when I was in charge of CBS coverage of the Winter Olympics … and I discussed using computers to evaluate football players with IBM experts then. But I didn't get a chance to put the idea into operation until 1962, when I was with the Cowboys.”
That year, Schramm asked Service Bureau Corp., a subsidiary of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), to develop a method of computerizing the football draft.
Tex Schramm, formerly general manager of the Los Angeles Rams and now president of the Dallas Cowboys, decided upon computerized consideration of football players while he was associated with CBS. The Rams, during the years Schramm worked for Owner Dan Reeves and luxuriated in what was then by far the most efficient scouting system in pro football, consistently came up with the best draft in the National Football League and just as consistently lost to other teams that grabbed their discards. Deluged with fine young talent in those years, the Rams tended to drop ripening players in favor of bringing in the new ones. "While I was with CBS, I thought the whole thing out very carefully," Schramm said the other day. "I decided that I had undervalued experience and overvalued youth. And I decided, too, that I would have to find an objective method of deciding on the worth of a football player when I went back into pro football.
The only defect in the Ram scouting system was that the people involved all had built-in prejudices of one sort or another. I thought we had to find a way to judge players without emotion. We used computers to figure scores and standings when I was in charge of CBS coverage of the Winter Olympics in 1958, and I discussed using computers to evaluate football players with IBM experts then. But I didn't get a chance to put the idea into operation until 1962, when I was with the Cowboys."