All sports being played across the world are monitored and officiated by a team of highly competent, neutral, and diligent umpires and referees. Rules are set for the players and they have to comply with the decisions made by these officials. Despite the efforts made by these umpires and referees to keep the game fair and give each opponent a level playing field, there are incidents where the players seem not too happy with the decisions of the officiating staff. Several changes had then to be made to the law to make the game even fairer. Television umpires and referees were introduced, who would watch over the decisions made by the on-field officials on a television screen and the game being displayed in slow motion.

Introduction of technology in the earlier part of the new century, made life even more simple for the on-field umpires. Hawk-eye, a highly complex computer program, was introduced by Dr. Paul Hawkins in UK. This technology is based on the surveillance of the game by six or seven high resolution video cameras, installed in different areas of the playing field. The technology has been accepted and being used in several sports such as cricket, tennis, badminton, and snooker etc. The cameras watch the movement of the ball from different angles, the data is collected and processed by a computer, which generates an imaginary field of play in 3D, showing the movement of the ball and can somewhat predict the path followed by the ball. Hawk-eye is accurate to within 5 mm.

CRICKET

The game of cricket is being officiated by two on-field umpires and a third umpire (TV umpire). The decisions made by on-field umpires can be challenged which are then referred to the third umpire, and in some cases when the on-field umpire is not sure, he refers the case to the TV umpire, who watches the game in slow motion and gives decision. Hawk-eye was first used in a test match between England and Pakistan. The major use of Hawk-eye in cricket is in judging the batsman out or not out when the ball strikes his leg in front of the wickets [Leg before wicket (LBW)]. The third umpire now makes use of this technology to see whether the ball has struck the batsman in line of the stumps, part of the leg where the ball hits him and project the movement of the ball toward the stumps to see whether it would have hit the stumps or not. After official recognition by International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2008, the technology is being used in major ICC events. Still there are doubts about the accuracy of the technology. A very controversial decision came during the world cup semi-final match between India and Pakistan in 2011, when the Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal had Sachin Tendulkar out LBW but was not given after referral to the Hawk-eye. Critics say that the point where the ball hit the batsman had moved a bit when the trajectory of the ball was being projected, which showed that the ball was missing the stumps, Tendulkar survived and India later won the match after his heroics. Three years later, a Pakistani batsman, Shan Masood was controversially given out by using Hawk-eye technology (Pak vs NZ), later admitted by the ICC that the decision was erroneous. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has never been in favor of using the technology, it being not 100% accurate. Some other cricket experts and umpires have also shown grievances over the use of technology in cricket, as it would reduce the impact made by the on-field umpires on the game. Moreover, Hawk-eye provides a complete profile of the player during and after the game, more of an interest to the coaching staff and the opponent team, which they use for their preparations for future games.

Tennis

The game of tennis is monitored by 10 cameras. These cameras send images to the computer which after processing the pixels related to the ball, creates a 3D picture and tracks the path of the ball. It is useful for shots which land very close to the court lines, making it difficult for the referee to judge whether it’s “in” or “out”. The technology took effect in 2006, but again it has led to some erroneous decisions at different occasions.

Badminton

The use of the Hawk-eye technology in Badminton is very much similar to that of tennis.

Snooker

In snooker, Hawk-eye is used more as a tool for the viewers than for the assistance of the referees. Its use in snooker is declining and is only used in world championships.

Soccer

Hawk-eye has been implemented in several football tournaments and the goal line technology was used for the first time in 2014 FIFA world cup.

Major criticism on the use of this technology in sports is because of its high cost, loss of human element, and its less than 100% accuracy.

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