Bird’s eye view

We’ve been watching a lot of tennis lately. Tennis is one of those games that you watch and find yourself thinking “it doesn’t look that hard” which progresses to “we should do that for a job.” The answer to those statements is “it is” and “we shouldn’t”. 

I did have tennis lessons as a child. I spent more time running punishment laps of the tennis court than holding a racquet – and subsequently don’t know my forehand from my forehead. Robyn is much more proficient when it comes to the skills involved but I’ve got the edge on brute strength and am prone to hitting the ball as hard as I can male, so we’re pretty evenly matched when we play. The Australian Open inspires a renewed vigour for the game every year – last year we bought racquets so maybe this year we’ll buy some sweat bands or something.

But I digress. I wanted to mention Hawkeye – which is an interesting case of technology driven by television companies being integrated into sport. Traditionally television companies interactions with sport have been to the detriment of tradition – eg World Series Cricket, Super League and 20/20 cricket.

Progress is not always good. Especially when it comes to eliminating human error in judicial administration of the rules of the game.

Cricket coverage lead the way in terms of calling umpire’s decisions into question – snicko, cricket’s hawkeye for LBWs, and hotspot – not to mention ultra slow motion repetitions of run out decisions.

The bane of Rugby League watching in recent years has been the time taken for video referee decisions.  

The desire for accuracy is in my mind an imperative based not on ensuring the players get a fair go – but insuring that the punters do. I mean punters in the literal “gambling” sense – not just fans. The amount of money riding on every game of professional sport could fund the bailout of a small financial institution so it’s increasingly important to get things right.

Robyn is all for Hawkeye in tennis – she says it encourages players to boldly aim for the lines – knowing they can make a challenge if a call doesn’t go the right way. I’m not sold, and neither it seems are the players. Particularly after hawkeye was thawrted by a bit of shade today.

Two final comments on this long post – firstly – did you know Hawkeye was invented by a man named Hawkins? I always thought the name was based on hawk’s legendary optic capacity and the fact that you’re getting a “birds eye view”. 

Secondly, I think Birdseye’s decision to sponsor Hawkeye was a brilliant piece of product endorsement. 

Here endeth the lesson.

2 thoughts on “Bird’s eye view”

  1. I think the cameras in the tennis are helpful. Over the 3 partial-games I’ve watched, I’ve probably seen 2 or 3 calls which were clearly wrong from my observation and upon challenge and the re-play, were reversed. Most of the others were either too fast or too close to the line to be able to tell and so the camera helps. Sometimes it’s been a good few centimetres off the line, or just a tiny fraction on it. I guess trying to fool your opponent as to whether it’s hit the line or not is part of tennis, so the umpire making the right decisions on it is important.

    I’m looking forward to them bringing in the second video ref in the NRL this year. I’ve been so frustrated by a lot of video-ref calls which everyone I was with agreed were wrong. Sometimes though, I think the refs on the field are too quick to go to the video ref to shift the responsibility off themselves. Maybe there should be a limit on the number of times they can go to the video ref, like in tennis there’s a limit to the number of challenges a player can make?

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