Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Sport refereeing and technology

World Tennis long ago embraced technology to resolve contentious decisions, as has rugby union, but cricket is only half-heartedly advancing towards and then retreating from technological assistance. Football has stood out until now. I was opposed to relying on TV evidence in umpiring decisions in the early days, but only because the technology was relatively crude then. Now that high-definition is available in stump cameras and computer processing is faster and more sophisticated, there is no reason not to go forward with it. That threshold was crossed much earlier in football, with its larger and slower-moving ball. It is hard to see why there has been so much resistance by FIFA.

Amit Varna, in his India Uncut blog, gives a clue:
"In one respect, football referees and cricket umpires are like governments. I often rant on India Uncut about how governments are supposed to serve us, but somehow contrive to rule us. Similarly, referees and umpires are there only to implement the laws of the game and keep it going smoothly. They are servants of the game. You’d think otherwise to see the hubris some of them display. Power intoxicates us, so much so that we might sometimes forget why we were granted that power.

"Those referees and umpires who speak out against the use of technological aids do themselves a disservice. Technology is no more a threat to them than an oven or microwave is to a chef, or a laptop is to a writer like me, who hasn’t used a pen in years. It won’t make them redundant; instead, it will help them do their job better."

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