Concerns Surrounding Microchipped Footballs Highlighted in Week 1 of CFL Season

After multiple misses by Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Sergio Castillo, the CFL made a swift decision on the usage of microchip-implanted footballs this year.

There was much excitement around the 2024 CFL season as it kicked off with a Grey Cup rematch between the Montreal Alouettes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. That excitement turned to controversy that began on the foot of Bombers kicker Sergio Castillo.

Castillo missed two field goals and an extra point in Winnipeg’s 27-12 loss to Montreal. After the game, he commented on the effects microchips in balls have on his performance.

“If I went 60 percent (with the chipped footballs during practice in training camp), that was a great day. When we went with normal balls, (I was) 90-plus percent. I’m trying to not get fined here. It’s very frustrating when you put in the work — and I have a little one, I have a wife back home that I have to provide for — and we’re not given the proper equipment to do well.”

– Sergio Castillo

The CFL started placing microchips in the balls last year to collect data and test on the field, but he balls were not used for kicking opportunities prior to this season.

Other kickers and punters came to the defense of Castillo, including Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Brett Lauther, BC Lions kicker Sean Whyte and Ottawa Redblacks kicker Lewis Ward.

The league acted swiftly on Friday, announcing teams would have a chance to decide before games whether to use microchipped balls for kicking plays. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie released a statement Friday on the move.

“The league has tested these footballs using robotic technology and current CFL players,” he began. “While there is no definitive evidence to suggest their use impacts performance in any manner, we are taking this step out of respect for kickers who do not yet feel comfortable using them.”

While the move was necessary for the CFL, the concern now is why it was made after one game. Did that create an unfair advantage for the seven teams who didn’t have to use the microchipped balls in their season openers?

The change seemed to have made Castillo happy, and now he can put it behind him and focus on the rest of the season.

“I’m just glad that it’s over,” he assured. “Glad (the CFL) heard our voice.”

Winnipeg opens up Week 2 of the CFL season on the road against the Ottawa Redblacks.

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