Duke syncs hoops program with iPads

I kind of wish I had an iPad. It's a pretty neat toy. But for the most part, at least for someone like me, who spends the majority of his day typing and using keyboard commands and copy and pasting things from place to place, that's all it is -- a very shiny toy. I can't really do my work efficiently on an iPad, and therefore I have no reason to spend a bunch of money I don't have to own one. Trust me, I've tried to justify it to myself for years. I just can't get there.

But despite my very personal and specific inability to find true function in that childlike-wonder-restoring miracle device, the iPad has always been undeniably perfect for consumption -- for reading books and watching movies and surfing the Internet and posting the occasional tweet or Facebook status. Which is in part why it has such massive potential in education, potential Apple has long since realized with its recent iBooks initiatives. Some colleges are already providing incoming students with iPads, and there might come a day in the not-too-distant future when students can get the majority of their learning materials in one beautiful, digital place. Maybe, in this utopia, college textbooks won't be a crazy scam! (Nah, probably not.)

Anyway, the point I'm slowly getting to is the iPad is absolutely ideal for the purposes the Duke Blue Devils have devised: Every men's basketball player will now receive a 64GB retina iPad, stuffed to the brim with playbooks, scouting reports, game videos and much more. From the program's release:

"The Duke basketball program is always trying to equip our players and staff with the very best resources, and the introduction of the iPads is another step in that direction," said associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski. "This new technology will help all of us work more efficiently and productively, while communicating at a higher level. We are very excited to involve the iPads in our day-to-day operations, evaluating our scouting, video analysis, schedule and game preparation."

Each iPad will include practice schedules, weekly itineraries, scouting reports, game and practice statistics as well as an extensive library of videos (practices, games, opponents and player specific video edits). The Duke players and coaches will also have the ability to take notes on the devices during film breakdown and on scouting reports.

Also, everybody can download the latest HD version of Angry Birds Rio. Which is nice.

Duke isn't the first program to issue iPads to its players; Michigan player Josh Bartelstein blogged (from his iPad?) about his program's use of the devices in 2011. But it is the first high-profile program to truly announce the move with such gusto, and as we all know, these announcements are as much about pride as they are luring prospects with the promise of flashy new gizmos.

The question is whether this will become a larger trend. Mid-Major Madness's Nicholas Lewis says the $13,000 or so it cost to equip the Duke men's hoops team could prove a much more difficult sum for the have-nots of the college hoops world. That might be true, even if $13,000 -- plus an additional $2,000-5,000 a year for new arrivals -- doesn't seem like all that much in the context of college athletics, even for many mid-major programs. And more and more schools might issue all incoming students iPads anyway.

But if the elite schools are the only ones able to afford such touches, well, that would be nothing new. Some coaches travel in charter jets; others fly coach. When it comes to recruiting advantages, an iPad is the least of most programs' concerns.

Anyway, enjoy the new toys, Dukies. Just don't take photos with it in public. Don't be those guys.

(Hat tip: Mashable)