This paper draws an earlier book (with Evans and Higgins) entitled Bad Call: Technology’s Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It
(hereafter Bad Call
) and its various precursor papers. These show why it is that current match officiating aids are unable to provide the kind of accuracy that is often claimed for them and that sports aficianados have been led to expect from them. Accuracy is improving all the time but the notion of perfect accuracy is a myth because, for example, lines drawn on sports fields and the edges of balls are not perfectly defined. The devices meant to report the exact position of a ball—for instance ‘in’ or ‘out’ at tennis—work with the mathematically perfect world of virtual reality, not the actuality of an imperfect physical world. Even if ball-trackers could overcome the sort of inaccuracies related to fast ball speeds and slow camera frame-rates the goal of complete accuracy will always be beyond reach. Here it is suggested that the purpose of technological aids to umpires and referees be looked at in a new way that takes the viewers into account.
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