The Yellow First-Down Line Didn’t Show up in Lansing Saturday and Here’s Why
If you tuned in to watch the Penn State-Michigan State game on Saturday (and we're just going to assume that you wouldn't have switched it on until after the Michigan-Ohio State game was over), you may have noticed that something was missing: The Yellow First Down Line.
An abundance of snow at Spartan Stadium in Lansing rendered the line technologically impossible during the game which was nationally televised on ABC.
Play-by-Play announcer Sean McDonough made the call, according to Awful Announcing.
"We apologize for the lack of the yellow first-down line, but the snow makes that technologically impossible at the moment until we can clear off some of those lines. We won't do that, the grounds crew at Spartan Stadium will."
I was today years old when I learned that it actually takes about four computers and a crew to make the First-Down Line appear on TV. There's one computer for each camera and another computer used to create the Chroma-Key image that you see on TV. According to How Stuff Works, the system needs to know exactly where each yard line is on the field in order to orient the line correctly. Snow on the field makes that impossible.
So now you know.