Bad Call
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From Inside Technology

Bad Call

Technology's Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It

By Harry Collins, Robert Evans and Christopher Higgins

How technologies can get it wrong in sports, and what the consequences are—referees undermined, fans heartbroken, and the illusion of perfect accuracy maintained.

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Summary

How technologies can get it wrong in sports, and what the consequences are—referees undermined, fans heartbroken, and the illusion of perfect accuracy maintained.

Good call or bad call, referees and umpires have always had the final say in sports. Bad calls are more visible: plays are televised backward and forward and in slow motion. New technologies—the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket, for example, and the goal-line technology used in English football—introduced to correct bad calls sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong, but always undermine the authority of referees and umpires. Bad Call looks at the technologies used to make refereeing decisions in sports, analyzes them in action, and explains the consequences.

Used well, technologies can help referees reach the right decision and deliver justice for fans: a fair match in which the best team wins. Used poorly, however, decision-making technologies pass off statements of probability as perfect accuracy and perpetuate a mythology of infallibility. The authors re-analyze three seasons of play in English Premier League football, and discover that goal line technology was irrelevant; so many crucial wrong decisions were made that different teams should have won the Premiership, advanced to the Champions League, and been relegated. Simple video replay could have prevented most of these bad calls. (Major League baseball learned this lesson, introducing expanded replay after a bad call cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.)

What matters in sports is not computer-generated projections of ball position but what is seen by the human eye—reconciling what the sports fan sees and what the game official sees.

Hardcover

$26.95 T ISBN: 9780262035392 296 pp. | 8 in x 5.375 in 26 b&w illus.

Paperback

$19.95 T ISBN: 9780262534444 296 pp. | 8 in x 5.375 in 26 b&w illus.

Endorsements

  • This is a thoroughly absorbing read because it sends a strong message about the need for change at the top levels of sports. I am a former General Manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd and last season I witnessed over 100 major game-changing errors like those highlighted in this book, eroding the status of the referee and his colleagues. I agree with the authors that the use of sports technology needs a rethink.

    Keith Hackett

    former referee, FIFA, Premier League; UEFA referee expert; coauthor of You Are the Ref

  • Bad Call is a brilliant book! It comprehensively dissects and analyzes the ever-increasing role of technology in sport and the unintended consequences that have emerged. The book is not only a must-read for those who are fans of sport but also for students, researchers, and administrators of sport.

    Stephen Frawley

    Director, Australian Centre for Olympic Studies, UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney, Australia

  • Bad Call is an engaging, accessible must-read for officials and fans in any sport using or contemplating using umpiring decision-aid technologies. It combines informed analysis of the science of decision-aid technologies (including discussion of their limitations) with an acute appreciation of the practical and philosophical issues they pose for sport.

    J. S. Russell

    Past Chair, Langara College Research Ethics Board, Langara College; former editor of Journal of the Philosophy of Sport