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Using technology in sports

Posted by Sankar on September 8, 2007


I have been watching the US Open the last couple of weeks and was pleasantly surprised to find that players were given opportunities to challenge the referee’s decision. Once a challenge is made, the location of the pitch of the ball is projected, animated and displayed on the screen and the decision is reversed if required. All this takes less than 30 secs probably. I feel this is healthy to the sport. Even though each tennis court has about 5-6 people calling the shots and a referee, the technology that is available to enhance the sport is being used effectively.

I really wish that cricket also takes a cue from this and enables the use of technology. The key points that can be raised by people against this are:

  • Cricket is a gentleman’s game – This is stupid. I mean really stupid. I mean this could have been the case a century back. Like in the days of Lagaan 🙂 The game is no longer like that. It is a sport and there are billions of people following the game.
  • Allowing the players to challenge the umpire is not correct and plays down the importance of them – This is even more stupid. I mean no one is going to take away the credit from the umpires. They can and will still call the shots. But when there is a doubt, why not use the technology. I mean, they are already doing this (3rd umpire), but why not broaden the usage. After all, the umpires are also humans and they do make mistakes and everyone knows (from the replays of several decisions) that such thing happens.
  • Allowing the players to challenge will slow down the game – This is correct to an extent. But the technology is so advanced these days that the challenges won’t take more than a minute. The rules can restrict the number of challenges per team per game. So that way, the teams don’t end up challenging each and every decision.
  • Another factor is that Cricket is the only team sport with the least number of people officiating on the field as compared to Tennis, Soccer, NFL, NBA etc. So with this less number of people, why not use the technology…

Let’s hope that ICC starts thinking for the good of the sport rather than think of generating more income.

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3 Responses to “Using technology in sports”

  1. sridharvanka said

    I think you have a point … a very valid point.
    However, I was listening to commentary yesterday on the TV. There was , expectedly, a lot of discussion over the decisions that Aleem Daar handed out. Ian Chappell came out and said that it should either be justice for all or justice for none.

    Right now, it is the prerogative of the on-field umpires on whether they want to use technology or not (i.e call for the third umpire or not). In some cases, they do not have that option. So, there is justice for some (like for India against Collingwood in the 6th ODI) while there isn’t justice for others (like Sachin and Dravid the other night).

    Even with a referrals system, a team could soon run out of the number of referrals they are allowed and may have to chose selectively on which decisions to debate (again selectivity).

    So, the point is: you either run it totally with technology (no on-field umpires, decision by slow-motion replay) or you keep technology completely out of it and go back to the age before third umpire came in.

    It sounds like an all or nothing call. I do believe, however, that we have spent a lot of time experimenting with the third umpire concept and it is now time to move to the next level. If people feel it is a useful tool, they should embrace it completely. If, on the other hand, it has not helped, it is time to ditch it and look for alternatives.
    Half-measures will not help. Wouldn’t you agree ?

  2. […] of technology in cricket September 9th, 2007 — sridharvanka Sankar has this nice post on why we shouldn’t be shy about using technology in cricket: I have been watching the US […]

  3. […] Posted by Sankar on June 18, 2008 ICC finally did some thinking and is trying a review system where the players can ask the on-field umpires decision to be reviewed. I had already written about this in an earlier post titled “Using technology in sports“. […]

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