Technology in Sports

Anybody and everybody who gets paid to yak about sports has an opinion on the use of technology to improve officiating. I grew up a Cubs fan, having words like ‘tradition,’ ‘pristine,’ and ‘old-school’ dominate my sports world. Wrigley Field didn’t even get lights until my 8th birthday, and they still don’t have a fancy scoreboard or video board.

So with that in mind, I was always on the side of the argument against adding technology to sports. Umpires are “a part of the game.” They make the sport charming and “add a human element” to the game.

I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that that argument doesn’t even make sense. We want our games to be called correctly. Who cares who makes that call? The yellow first down line has been a part of television for so long that I think we forget it’s not actually on the field. The Boise State-Nevada football game was decided by a missed field goal. Because it went higher than the uprights, we have no real way to know for sure that it missed. So why not have a laser upright that extends infinitely into the air. That would be the easiest way to know for sure. The same goes for baseball. MLB.com has had pitchFX for quite a while now. We know everything about every pitch: where it starts, where it ends, how much it breaks, how fast it’s going, and exactly where it crosses the plate. So why wouldn’t we have pitchFX calling balls and strikes?

I think there are valid arguments against using instant replay. You don’t want to slow down a game (especially baseball, which is already way too slow). So, don’t have replays. Just use better tools to get the calls right in the first place. If pitchFX is calling balls and strikes, there’s no umpire for the managers to argue with and cause delays in the game. If the laser goal post is also used as laser foul poles, we don’t have to argue about whether a home run was fair or foul. If you can put a chip in a soccer ball and know, for a fact, whether or not it crosses the goal line, how stupid do you have to be to not do it?

Even though I’m a Cubs fan, I’m also a technology enthusiast, and I have reached the point where I don’t understand why we’re not using this stuff. I don’t think anyone really wants calls to be wrong, so if there’s a way to get calls right and take human imperfection out of it, why not get it done?

About Scott Allen

Scott Allen is a web developer from Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been working with HTML, CSS, PHP, & MySQL since the late '90s, and has extensive experience in database design and development, server-side scripting, content management, and front-end user experience, especially in the creation of educational content. Connect with Scott on Twitter (preferably), or Facebook or Google+ (if you aren't in a hurry).
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