Annoyance galore! · Mind takes over · Sports

Technology – the age old debate!

Ever since the time of the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 19th century, people have always looked at technology as something that has made their lives better and easier. Technology enabled us to make more time in our lives for leisure activities. It has made our work easier and thus we have increased our standard of living. It has also brought about new inventions that we cannot live without nowadays for example electricity, various cooking appliances, etc.

But this article isn’t to espouse about the benefits of technology in everyday life. It is to talk about the use of technology in events where it isn’t exactly very necessary but does make the result of the event more accurate. And yes, I’m definitely talking about sports. Tennis and cricket are two well-known sports that have begun to use hawk-eye to track the movement of the ball to determine where it lands or what it hits. This has resulted in better accuracy and determination of decisions, which sometimes are the turning points in a deciding match. Football, on the other hand, has continued to show a determined stand against using goal-line technology in international events to further better determine whether a ball has crossed the goal line in counting a goal. For those who remember, please refer to Frank Lampard’s no goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarters (I think) which was disallowed at the 2-1 scoreline before HT even though the big screen replay showed that the ball had gone past Manuel Neuer’s hands and the goal line. Also the England Germany World Cup semi-final in 87 where England was granted a goal which put them through to the final only to face Argentina and the famous ‘Hand of God’ goal by Maradona.

Sep Blatter has come out against criticism saying that goal line technology would destroy the very essence of the game and technology has always brought more harm than good to sporting events. In tennis, each player gets three challenges every set and refreshed for every tie break, which if he gets right he is allowed to keep them, but if he gets wrong he loses one. The Decision Review System, authorised by the ICC for international Test matches and international tournaments (ODI and T20), uses a new technology called HotSpot that detects the slightest touch of the ball on the bat and pad and where it lands on the pitch. TV commentators also use Snicko, a sound detection system, that allows them to confirm for themselves the DRS HotSpot decision.

But recently in the ongoing Ashes Test series between Australia and England where England have retained the Ashes with 2 more matches to go, having drawn the 3rd match due to the last day being washed out, the DRS used there has been brought under the scanner. The third umpires are put under pressure to decipher and interpret the result given to them to either overturn or uphold. Players are not sure when to review or not review even though they know that the review will go their way because of what can or cannot be seen on HotSpot. Also each team gets two reviews, if they get it right, they get to keep their review but if they get it wrong then they lost one. Reviews get refreshed with every innings.

The basic idea of technology review systems is being able to wipe out howlers and horrible decisions made by human errors. There have been numerous instances in the past (before the days when technology was used in sports) when replays by sports channels showed evidence of howlers in cricket and tennis and even football. But there was no technology in place to correct that, unlike today. So what happens when the person interpreting the footage constructed and put in place to remove a particular howler, commits a howler himself? It’s as they say, if the guards are guarding the people, who will guard the guards?

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