Computers can do anything these days. I can order an able-bodied, minimum-wage citizen to bring chili dogs to my pirated screening of Sonic the Hedgehog just by yelling drunkenly into a tiny cylinder whose name I can recall more easily than several of my close relatives; I can see a crisp image of the area of my brain that is directly responsible for my addiction to eating foods that begin with the letter p; and I can watch recreations of dead actors dance around on a giant flat rectangle while I smear my face with the perfect mixture of carbs and fat. And now, finally, computers are making their way into one of the last human-dominated activities: participation in professional sports.
During a press conference after Monday night’s NFL matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, 49ers General Manager John Lynch revealed that Chase McLaughlin, the rookie kicker who stood in for the injured Robbie Gould, is entirely computer generated, a product of their new CGP (Computer Generated Player) system.
“We like to embrace technology on this team,” Lynch said. “We go heavy on the analytics, and we make sure we’re on the cutting edge of recovery science. When Kyle [Shanahan, head coach,] came to me and said they were ready to try out the CGP system, I gave him the go ahead.”
The computer generated kicker fared rather well for most of the game, completing all three of his field goals and his single extra point attempt during regulation. However, McLaughlin missed a potential game-winning kick wide to the left in overtime, giving the Seahawks the opportunity to win the game.
The bad miss was attributed to a glitch in the CGP system, which Lynch admitted had never been tested under overtime conditions. The cause of the glitch has yet to be determined, and the 49ers front office is working with the league to investigate the incident in order to determine whether there was any foul play by the opposing team.
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