May 15, 2009

"Hey ump, your sensor's miscalibrated!"

Is it time for virtual refs to replace the men and women in stripes, wonders Colin Barras of NewScientist.
Referees have got their hands on some advanced technology, which is already vastly improving the fairness of sports. For example, Hawk-Eye ball-tracking software is now used to examine contested calls in tennis, and photo-finish cameras in athletics can now take 3000 snapshots per second to reveal the winner.

But there is the potential for technology to do much more – even to take over the enforcement of the rules altogether. That could spare some sports refs from the unpleasant consequences of a bad call, which in extreme cases can lead to death threats. As Harding's team points out, it could also limit the scope for corrupt officials to influence a game.

So perhaps the time has come for the fans, competitors, and sport organisers who embrace technology in many areas to allow referees and umpires to do the same.
Spend enough time watching NBA refs in action, and you might be inclined to agree.

Of course, everyone knows that the real reason virtual refs are resisted so fervently isn't the desire for preserving the purity of sport, but for preserving the all-holy blame-it-on-the-ump. You just can't sass a circuitboard.

3 comments:

BloggingRef said...

A computer could realistically call anything regarding a boundary line--balls and strikes, for instance, or did the ball break the plane, hit the rim, is the guy out of bounds. I believe even refs would be okay with that.

But how the hell can a computer call a block/charge or an illegal screen, holding, pass interference, taunting...?

We'll eventually have some sort of hybrid system (more so than now).

Jim Anderson said...

"But how the hell can a computer call a block/charge or an illegal screen, holding, pass interference, taunting...?"

There's an app for that.

Nikola Đorđević said...

Isn't there also the problem of a lot of people losing their jobs?