Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Tech side of the World Cup

To combine my enthusiasm for the World Cup with my tech-minded blog, I've decided to dedicate this post (yes, I know, the first in a while - I apologize) to examining the intersection of the sport and technology.

Aside from my ire over Zidane's inexplicable head butt and England's early exit (despite outplaying Portugal with only 10 men), my biggest pet peeve of the tournament, like many others, was the abundance of diving and atrocious calls. There were so many it's hard to recall all of them, but just in the last game there was the PK awarded to France over a questionable call, and then a much more clear cut case later in the game that was not called.

How do you solve this? There are two problems: refereeing mistakes and the rampant diving. So the obvious answer is to implement some sort of instant replay system. How would this work? I think the easiest would be to have a referee in a replay booth who can talk to the ref on the field. But FIFA has said this would disrupt the flow of the game. Maybe cutting edge technology is the answer - why not give the refs a replay device that fits in his pocket? For a disputed calls, he would simply whip out the screen, take a second look, and (possibly) change the call.

And although the Zidane PK in the final was ruled correctly, other "did it cross the line completely" calls were very questionable. FIFA (and the NFL actually) needs to start using micro technology to track the ball and have a more reliable way of determining whether the ball went in the net.

Anyway, just getting some tech post-Cup thoughts off my chest. Expect a couple more posts (very soon, possibly later today) as I'm currently at MashupU, the two day precursor to the two-day MashupCamp, a tech conference in Mountain View (at the Computer History Museum, in the heart of Silicon Valley).


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