NFL Teams Can Now Film Practices with Drones; Use Prohibited on Game Days!


There is good news for NFL teams. Drones have now been authorized for use by the teams so that they can capture all of the footage of their practice sessions. The popularity of the NFL is soaring to new heights and with the use of drones now legalized, it is great news for teams. The league has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for allowing the use of drones.

Brian McCarthy the NFL spokesman who sent an email to the Associated Press about how drones cannot be used on game days, as the league has not been granted permission for drone use in parking lots or the football stadiums on game day. He mentioned that NFL Films have been given authorization to use drones and the teams can also film their practice sessions, if they comply with all local, state and federal guidelines that have been set by the FAA. This is great news for NFL Films who will now be able to use unique visual images that will be captured by the drones and will enhance their storytelling and filmmaking capabilities.

Drone Crashes

Plenty of drone crashes have been reported lately. The most recent ones were at the US Open in New York and just before a Kentucky college football game, which occurred earlier this month. There have been over 50 unmanned aircrafts that have flown over NFL and Major League Baseball stadiums over the past 2 years, and they are be hard to detect, since they come and go quietly. They are generally controlled by hobbyists who either wanted a picture of their favorite team in action or simply lost control of the device.


The FAA released strict notices that it is illegal to fly drones in the vicinity of Major League Baseball, NFL, NCAA Division I college football games and major auto races. It stated that other sporting events can choose to place their own bans regarding the use of drones, but the details surrounding the penalties that will be imposed when violations are made and who will be doing the sentencing are still not clear.

The Legal Implications

In the recent Kentucky drone case, the campus police issued wanton endangerment charges against the person who owned the wayward drone, while at the U.S. Open, the police in New York issued similar charges against a high school science teacher who had happened to lose control of his drone. The FAA has provided a list in its temporary flight restrictions at sporting events and they state the following possible criminal charges that a person may face for flying an unsanctioned drone:

  • Reckless endangerment
  • Trespassing
  • Assault
  • Operation of a vehicle while under influence

Drones are now also commonly used by TV broadcasters, as they can attach cameras to them and get previously impossible angles and shots at sports facilities. ESPN managed to clear numerous regulatory hurdles in order to get drones with cameras, which could follow the snowboarders and skiers down the hill during the Winter X Games in January of this year.

ESPN could only manage to get the approval for using drones, after it gave assurances to the FAA that there will be no drones flown over spectators or in the air space of planes, which will be flying in or out from a nearby airport. Fox Sports also used a 4-wheel robot, which had a camera attached to it, when it was covering golf’s the U.S. Open in June this year.




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