The use of television technology in sports to help officials has slowly but surely become a part of just about every entity. The NFL, NHL and NBA all use instant replay in various forms, and MLB is on the verge of adopting its own system.
So it comes as no surprise that tennis also has a line-call system to help referees during matches. The Hawk-Eye system to determine whether balls were in or out is used at the U.S. Open and Australian Open, and since last year, at Wimbledon at well.
What does come as a surprise is the technology isn’t an exact replay of what happened. Rather, the technology reconstructs the ball’s most likely path by combining its trajectory using images from the cameras. Hawk-Eye does not reproduce what actually happened, but what was statistically most likely to have happened.
Roger Federer dismissed the system as “nonsense” at last year’s Australian Open when it was first introduced and complained it was “killing him” during last year’s Wimbledon Final. But Hawk-Eye has its backers, including Andy Roddick and Lindsay Davenport. Davenport feels “it gives you peace of mind as a player” and “takes a lot of pressure off umpires.”
The Hawk-Eye’s margin of error averaged .14 inches (3.6 millimeters) in testing, and the managing director of the technology, Paul Hawkins, claims it was 99.9% accurate in more than 1,000 tests.
The question remains, is that good enough? When it’s described with phrases like “most likely path” and “what was statistically most likely to have happened,” I say no.
THERE IT IS!