28 Jun 2010

Technology and Sport

For most of the world these few weeks have been nothing but football.

I’m sure every World Cup is filled with referee errors, but this one has been particularly bad.

Perhaps they’re always this bad, but the viewer at home has more access to instant-replays during each passing tournament. You have to feel badly for the teams whose World Cup dreams get destroyed by a bad call, but I also feel for the referee. 1 billion people instantly know that he’s made a mistake. The worst, most obvious mistake would have to be in the England-Germany match. Here is what the Uruguayan referee saw after Frank Lampard scored a goal the first half of their round of 16 match against Germany

Clearly, there’s a definite need for technology of some kind. Be it instant replays, goal-line cameras, a 5th referee that has access to views from different cameras, etc. There are many ways to solve this problem, and any of them would probably work. I personally like the way it works at Wimbledon. Each player is allowed a maximum of three incorrect challenges in a normal set after which they are not permitted to challenge again in that set. So, basically, if as long as you don’t make 3 incorrect challenges per set, you can challenge everything. This has the advantage that it only happens with the player is fairly certain they are right, or when the point is crucial. There is very little time wasting or complaining, as rather than complain about a bad call, you just make an official challenge. (See official Wimbledon Challenge System).