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Science Meets Sports

작성자HANBAT HERALD  조회수1,764 등록일2022-01-14
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Science Meets Sports

By Yoon Ji-yeon Editor-in-Chief, Junior of Electrical Engineering

 

“The bad call is also a part of the game.” Those who like sports may have heard this at least once. When the team or athlete that you are supporting gets the unfair results made by a referee’s bad call, the fans try to control their mind by reminding them of those words. As a result, it has become a part of sports culture.

However, the players who have tried hard can not be damaged by misjudgments forever. People have tried to solve this problem by introducing science technology into sports. Then, specifically, what kind of technologies have been brought in different types of sports? It is fun to just watch, but if you have more knowledge of the technology, it will be much more fun! Let’s find out in detail through this article.


1. Soccer – Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, is one of the most representative cases in which scientific technologies are used. The VAR technology officially debuted in 2016 FIFA Club World Cup, and it has been widely used in Europe’s major football leagues, UEFA Champions League, and K-League.  

In important situations like a goal, penalty kick, red card, etc., we often can see the referees draw a square with two hands, and put their hands on the ears. This is the scene where the referees demand a VAR decision and exchange their opinions with the judges in the VAR room. The VAR judges who are in the VAR room are checking the game through the 30 cameras which are installed throughout the stadium. They communicate with the referees in the stadium in real time and deliver the reading results. In this process, the average reading time is around 12 seconds, which is much shorter than the time spent protesting against misjudgment. This meaningful change helps run the game smoothly.

The most representative example of the game in which VAR changed the outcome is the 18-19 season Champions League quarter-final between Tottenham and Manchester City. In this game, the VAR decision was based on whether Fernando Llorente’s goal was a handball foul or not. In conclusion, VAR showed the goal was not a handball foul, and Tottenham scored the goal. In the extra time of  the second half, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling scored a goal, and it made the game lean towards Manchester City’s victory. However, the VAR decision was made on whether the situation was an offside situation, and the result was offside. Eventually the goal was canceled, and as a result of the first and second round, Tottenham could advance to the Champions League semi-finals. Two VAR decisions determined their result.


2. Tennis – Hawk-eye

The tennis ball usually moves at an average speed that easily exceeds 200km/h. This makes it really hard to make an accurate decision depending on the referee’s eyes. So, tennis has used scientific technology for a relatively long time, compared with the other sports. Hawk-eye debuted in the 2006 U.S. open, which was about 10 years earlier than soccer. 

Hawk-eye is a technology which is much more sophisticated than the VAR. 10-14 high-speed cameras are installed throughout the court, and they capture the movement of the ball at 340 frames per second. Based on images captured by high-speed cameras, each frame is analyzed and reproduced as a graphic video in a three-dimensional space to determine the judgment. This graphic video is open to referees, audiences, coaches, and players in real time. This is a characteristic and advantage that is compared with other video technologies.

Each athlete can request using Hawk-eye up to three times per set. If three challenges fail in one set, they can not request any more, even if a clear misjudgment has happened. So, the players must use the challenge chances strategically. According to the statistics for the 2017 U.S. open, the percentage of decisions changed as a result of using Hawk-eye was less than a third, showing 28 percent for men’s singles, and 24 percent for women’s singles.

Scientific technologies have been used in various sports in addition to the two cases introduced in this article. Baseball has instituted a Robot Umpire to discern the strike zone, and volleyball also uses Hawk-eye for In-out replay, and VAR technology to check for errors, like net touches. 

In the past, it was hard to imagine a machine making a decision rather than a human referee. However, nowadays, it is a common situation, making more precise decisions. These changes are responding to the sweat and efforts of athletes. Let’s look forward to fairer decisions which will be made by more advanced levels of technology.