Football gets its Hawkeye

January 8, 2018
WG Grace
This week, football’s new video assessment system reaches cup competitions in England. Will we learn from experiences in other sports?
Technology was accepted for lines-calls in tennis some years ago. It has also been introduced into cricket, and Rugby (both codes). LWD followed the emergence of Hawkeye in tennis, and one post has been studied as a business leadership case.
The changes were mostly accepted, perhaps grudgingly from those with a yearning for the romance of earlier days. Football now seems likely to follow a similar trajectory of initial controversy followed by eventual acceptance. There will almost certainly be learning from experience.
The new football system has been tested in Italy for around a hundred matches. It seems that the video referee is called into action in about 25% of matches. This is in contrast to the approach followed by rugby, when the hold-ups are incessant, and where referees are now conditioned to check every possible infringement,or point-scoring opportunity.
Tennis and cricket have opted for a limited number of player appeals. The approaches has been linked to spectator involvement following the game on large viewing screens, and rather naff graphics in cricket.
The problem I see is a concern by official bodies to obtain the ‘technically correct’ decision. This may be influenced by the financial swings hanging on a single decision.  In tennis, this means the evidence for a ball being hit in (including on) the line, or outside the line. The technology tends to be trusted to a precision that is not possible for the human eye of even the best umpires. A similar state of affairs holds in cricket where the technology reveals the slightest of contact with ball on bat, which would influence a decision for caught or LBW (out for the ball striking the player’s pads according to complex rules known as leg before wicket).
The current systems reduce uncertainties of human error to plausible ‘right or wrong’ decisions.  We are not quite at the limits of uncertainty according to the scientific principle formulated by Heisenberg, but not precise enough to make practical debate futile.
A better way?
There is a modification to this approach which seems better to me. The technology could be used to avoid obvious errors, rather than resolve minuscule quibbles over the slightest of touches of a ball on a bat, or whether  a ball has gone beyond the line (of a football or tennis playing area , or marginally forward in a passing sequence in rugby (one of the game’s delights cut short too often at present.)
Will the new system being introduced resolve controversy about decisions by the officials? Not according to one Italian expert describing their footballing experience. Are the fans happy? Only if the decision is in their team’s favour, he replied with a sigh.
Advertisements

Wimbledon as a metaphor for English Culture: A creative look

June 30, 2016

IMG_0641.JPG

Wimbledon fortnight.  Any visitor to England would suspect tennis to be the national sport, perhaps equalled only by football. It may be more usefully seen as a metaphor for English popular culture

If the idea intrigues you, try this experiment before moving on. Take a blank sheet of paper. On the left, write down aspects of Wimbledon fortnight you think relate to its culture. Keep going until you have a full page. By the way, it works just as well, maybe better, if carried out by a team or social group.

You can see my efforts if you continue reading this post. I have ‘unfolded’ the experiment with several page breaks so that you can try things out for yourself before reading what I found.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jamie Murray: World Number One Doubles Player

April 16, 2016

Jamie Murray

 On March 27th 2016 Jamie Murray became World No 1 doubles player, and the first British tennis player to achieve top ranking since the ATP computer rankings were introduced for doubles in 1976. He strengthened his position at Monte Carlo three weeks later

 Jamie Murray had progressed with John Peers into several Slam event finals, and won six titles over the period 2012-2015, but switched partner to the Brazilian Bruno Suares shortly after the 2015 US Open last September. Almost immediately [in January 2015] they won the 2016 Australian Open together.

 

The Overlooked Murray

Jamie has been overlooked outside (and arguably inside) the tennis following community. Andy Murray has attracted headlines for a range of achievements and firsts for British Tennis (not English Tennis, as he felt required to point out  in earlier years). First to break the drought in Grand Slam winners, and Olympic golds for GB, the driiving force on the team winning the Davis Cup in 2015, where again Jamie played an important part in the doubles victories with Andy.

But it was Jamie not Andy who was first to win a slam event, hardly mentioned any more. Why? Because it was in doubles (lower kudos than a singles win) and mixed doubles at that.

Now it is also Jamie who is first to become the Tennis World No One. as Andy contests for the Number two slot (but of course, again in the higher status Singles rankings).

Jamie probably prefers to stay more out of the limelight, but it would take a very unusual person not to have some hint of sibling rivalry from time to time.

Jamie’s strengths

Jamie’s strength has developed around lightening quick reflexes and net interceptions, and a few specialities which favour guile over power, including a chip forehand, a placed rather than a crunched volley, and a lob return of service.  He still conceals a modest serve which sometimes lets him down.

Beating the Bryans

At 30 he is seven years younger than the Bryan twins who remain committed to returning to the top, and are experimenting with a switch of court positions to do so.

No false mask of confidence

Jamie sometimes cuts an anxious figure on court. He does not conceal tensions he feels. In so many sports, the top cat displays a mask of confidence and even invincibility.

Not Jamie, which is encouraging for the rest of us.

Acknowledgment

Image from Jamie’s wikipedia site.

PostScript

More to come, as Brother Andy prepares to emulate Jamie and get to the final of the Monte Carlo tournament

 

 


The sport we love: How much have we been in denial over doping?

April 5, 2016

I believed, like many others, that taking performance-enhancing drugs was a problem for a minority of people in a minority of sports.  It is increasingly clear that I have been in a state of denial for many years

Like some hideous conspiracy project, the extent of the problem is revealing itself more and more.

“What do you think about [****] ?” Someone asked me yesterday.Tudor Rickards   He was referring to one of the high-profile cases in a sport he knew I was interested in.

“Unfortunate” I said uneasily.  “A career ruined”

“… and [****]?” He mentioned another sporting superstar whose name is a global brand.

“There have been accusations for some years” I admitted.  “But some people are looking at exceptional performances as proof of drug-taking. ”

He nodded.

 Within hours, another story broke 

Read the rest of this entry »


Doping in Tennis. Nadal plays an attacking game

March 15, 2016

Rafa Nadal

Three years ago we published a post about doping in tennis. The story re-emerged this week as Nadal says he intends to sue for remarks about his alleged drug taking.

The original post suggested that tennis may be in denial about the state of drug taking in the sport.

A colleague with legal experience suggested I leave the specific aspects of the post out of the more recent publication Tennis Matters.

This post will be updated as the story develops.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sharapova shows her class facing professional humiliation

March 9, 2016


The story has shocked the tennis world. Maria Sharapova admits charges of taking performance enhancing-substances after failing a drugs test during the Australian Open

The superstar deals with the career-threatening blow with remarkable panache. This week [March 7 2016] a hastily-arranged press conference attracts a huge gathering of media journalists from beyond the world of tennis. A ‘significant announcement’ is promised.

It was assumed that Sharapova was going to announce her retirement after increasing effects of injuries. We didn’t see what was coming.

A contrite superstar fronts up

Looking upset but controlled, the superstar announces that she has continued taking taken a substance for medical purposes that was placed on the banned list as recently as January.

She accepts the error contravenes the WADA guidelines. However mistaken, she accepts her guilt, while hoping that mitigating circumstances will lessen her punishment.

An example must be made

The sports world splits into those calling for the most severe punishment possible (pour encourager les autres) and those accepting her mitigating circumstances includes her honest admission of guilt.

From a business perceptive, she behaved in the approved fashion and demonstrated leadership abilities rarely seen when a PR crisis blows up.

women in business, Maria Sharipova, Tennis, sports management, WADA, drug abuse, Olympic Games 2016, crisis handling, leadership the business magnate

Sharapova was world number one in tennis, and is proving a world-beater in her business ventures. At one stage, with injuries holding back her tennis, a story developed that she was considering changing her name to Maria Sugarpova. I leave readers to decide whether that was branding candy floss. In any case, the Sharapova brand is highly successful. In 2012 her on-court earnings at $5 million were dwarfed by her endorsements of $20 millions.

Damage limitation

This is damage-limitation big time. Within days of her press conference, three of her lucrative sponsorship contracts were terminated.

She still receives support from her national sports organization in Russia, itself suffering serious allegations about institutionalized drug-taking. The intention is that Sharapova will be in the Russian tennis squad to compete in the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.

Reckless beyond description

Dick Pound, the instigator of the bombshell of a report into drug testing recently, described Sharipova’s actions as reckless beyond description. Brilliant PR and communication skills sometimes are not enough to protect a train wreck from taking place.


Sweet Caroline takes on a new meaning for Godiva and tennis star Wozniaki

December 14, 2015

 Caroline Wozniacki Godiva

 

Maria Sharipova and Maria Bartoli  are among the stars of women’s tennis who have shown their entrepreneurial talents.

Now it’s Caroline Wozniaki’s turn, partnering with Belgian luxury chocolate firm Godiva

Read the rest of this entry »