Human eye vs. “Hawk-Eye”

When we started blogging, annehwr already introduced us to the topic of “the role of technologies being used in sports”. In her post she was also referring to the so called “Hawk-Eye” technology and she touched the debate on whether it is a good tool to be used or not.

Being a tennis player, sometimes I of course watch tennis matches and I follow the big tournaments broadcasted on television. But today I will not talk about the players and their play but about a very helpful tool used during first-elite level matches.

Pressure

Over the last decades, tennis sport has experienced a certain development: the equipment has changed, racquets are made from different materials than before and today there are played courts of artificial surfaces.  This all led to a faster play in general. Along with that there have emerged several cases of officials’ line calling that stirred up controversy. So, there has been increasing pressure from all different parts to adopt a system that will give assistance in line-calling.

Today I will give you the “tennis view” on the “Hawk-Eye” technology and in my next post I will give you a debate and an example of a sport that is not benefitting yet from such technology.

What is “Hawk-Eye” ?

Just to give you a quick understandable explanation: “Hawk-Eye” is a line calling system that works with high-speed cameras placed around the court. This system is recording from different angles the balls’ trajectory and can so compute a 3D image of the ball and the spot where it hit the ground.

It is not only about “in” or ‘’out’’

Jason Tsang writes in his blog about the additional use of the “Hawk-Eye” system apart from preventing the umpire of wrong line calls. He states that this tracking system also allows for statistics that can be also shown to the audience. Further he argues that even the players could benefit during the match from the stats displayed as they could adjust their play.

Opponents

Nevertheless, there are doubters of this technology. Most famous person in this context could be Roger Federer being cited: “A pure waste of money.”

It is to mention that according to Jason the system costs approximately $20,000 to $25,000 USD per week for one court.

Bloggers Anonymous and Geoff are challenging the accuracy of the technology as they are wondering about the balls’ compression and skid and the images proportionality. They claim that the images look as though the ball’s entire diameter always comes in contact with the court (as we can see a perfectly round and quite large imprint of the ball).

Jeff Walker adds that the “Hawk-Eye” system takes out the emotion of a match. He says that if we have had replay back then we would have never seen legendary tirades of players against umpires. He declares that this was definitely more entertaining than a computer spitting out a result.

Proponents

But there are a lot of people who are in favor of  “Hawk-Eye”. Jamea Jackson stated that she feels relieved as she is not wasting any more time on getting angry about wrong umpire decisions (and while being angry loosing points). And she disagreed on peoples’ opinion that the system throwing off the timing and the rhythm of the match.

So, to sum it up I think that James Blake gave a good statement on the use of the system as he argued that the speed of the ball sometimes just makes it impossible to see, even for trained people and that a simple replay can eliminate human error.

Obviously it is a good tool but just like Anonymous observes that the system is mostly only used on the center court (the ONE main court of a tournament) it advantages (only) top players as they can challenge line-calls in order to find out if the ball was in or out. I think there must be found a solution for the cost issue, otherwise this technology will instead of gaining representative value, loose it. All players competing in the same tournament should be given access to the same tools.

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4 Comments

  1. Lucas

     /  2011/12/20

    No soccer anymore ..
    Well coming to the topic again I think the controversy is really interesting and you did a good job finding it but I think two opinions don’t state the big argumentation on such devices.
    Still a good start and I am curious on what’s coming up!?

    Reply
    • Lucas

       /  2011/12/20

      … and I was kind of waiting for a personal statement.

      Reply
      • Lucas

         /  2011/12/20

        … besides that it’s to expensive.

  1. Technologies? No, thanks. It’s a matter of time « spogging

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