By now, you’ve probably heard: Duke’s basketball team is getting iPads.
You can read all about it in this press release here.
The iPads will be uploaded with game-tapes, scouting reports, personnel breakdowns and offensive and defensive edits for matchups with future opponents, which is an incredible tool for the Duke coaching staff to provide. The players are, quite literally, a four-digit passcode and a couple of strokes of a touch-screen away from having a complete breakdown of their last game (their last practice?) as well as a full scouting report for their next opponent.
This is all information that can be given out in other ways. Scouting reports come in packets. Clips can be made an put onto a DVD or a thumb-drive. Plays can be drawn up on just about anything. The beauty of the iPad in this case is that it can all be put into one, easily manageable tablet that can be used anywhere. It makes the process of pulling a laptop ALL the way out of its carrying case and putting in ALL that effort to turn it on AND find an outlet to keep it charged seem like a chore.
The key: convincing the players to put in the effort to get better outside of the practice gym. As the saying goes, you can give a player an iPad, but you can’t make him do anything other than play Angry Birds with it.
It’s also a heckuva recruiting tool, as the players will be allowed to use the iPad for whatever they want. (It’s technically still the school’s property, although they will have the option to purchase it when they graduate.) If they want to but a subscription to Netflix to catch up on the fifth season of Gossip Girl, they can. If they want to use it to try and set a personal record in Temple Run, they can. If they want to use it to download their reading assignments for class or to purchase textbooks, they can do that, too.
I don’t own an iPad, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want one. I do. Badly. They are really freakin’ cool. But they are also really freakin’ expensive, which is where the beauty here lies: Duke gives these athletes a toy they want and soup it up to be used as a tool to get better, which is a $13,000 luxury that many other programs (Lehigh?) cannot afford.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.