Monday, August 14, 2006

Tennis Line Calls

EclectEcon raises a very good point, quite consistent with my observation from the Rogers Cup last week in this post.
He comments first:
The sports announcers have repeatedly told us that approximately 30% of all player challenges have been upheld (i.e., the line calls were incorrect). This seems like an inordinately large number of errors by line judges.

One should keep in mind that the only line calls being measured here were those being challenged by players, who have an incentive in the challenge system to get it right. Both my friend and I at the tournament on Friday noticed that almost all challenges were made by players on calls on their side of the court, on shots where they were no doubt watching the ball closely and it was right in front of them, and much farther from the line judges.

Where I utterly agree with him is on this:

Alternatively, with this many instances of having line-judge overcalls, I can imagine a different scenario in which the technology becomes fast enough that line judges are eliminated. I wouldn't mind seeing this form of capital-labour substitution.

What I wrote earlier, and I do believe the technology is ready to supplant the people:
I have no idea what the underlying technology is behind the decisions of whether the line judges were right. What happens in the stadium is that we all look at the TV screens, and a simulation is shown of the flight of the ball, ending with exactly how it landed compared to the line. My guess is most of this simulation is fluff, and there is some good fundamental technology which gets the key point right - where the ball landed. But I do not know. And I do wonder, if this is so reliable, is it really still so slow that we even need line judges?


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