Goal-line technology… What’s the point?

Kettering to get goal-line technology? Probably not.

“Mathematical jiggery pokery.” That’s how Liam Kilmartin, lecturer in the Electronic Engineering Department described the process behind developing goal-line technology at a talk in NUIG on Tuesday the 16th of January.
In the course of an hour long talk, Kilmartin explained how the various technologies work, including the much talked about Hawk-Eye and the less talked about Cairos system. The latter is an in-ball system currently being developed in association with Adidas.
Kilmartin himself is well placed to speak on such matters. He was part of a team who were given the task between 1996 and 1999 to develop a viable “point score detection technology” for the GAA. And develop they did. However there were a few sticking points; the cameras used were too slow, for one. The GAA themselves weren’t exactly full of alternative ideas however. Making the goalposts higher, anyone? In the end nothing was done.
Not long after the project was disbanded, a small English company, Roke Manor Research, had a patent for a system not dissimiliar to the one Kilmartin et al had developed. Its name was Hawk-Eye, the name now eponymous with any discussion on goal-line technology.
On the 2nd April last, in a National Hurling League game between Dublin and Kilkenny in Croke Park, Hawk-Eye was given a trial run. It worked. The system is very accurate, very sophisticated, and very, very expensive. There is a need for Hawk-Eye engineers to be in every stadium where the technology is installed.
Therefore the system is not viable across the board, and if it was only to be available in Croke Park what type of message would that send out? The only games that matter occur in GAA HQ? Frequenters of Semple Stadium, Pairc Ui Caoimh and Pearse Stadium, to name but a few, would have something to say about that.
Across the pond, the English FA has the same problem. Sure, the majority of Premier League clubs could take the financial hit, install Hawk-Eye and have engineers on site. But, as Mr Kilmartin said, what happens in the FA Cup when the likes of Manchester United are drawn to play someone like Kettering? If the tie is in Old Trafford, is Hawk-Eye used? If the tie is in err…. Kettering’s home field, is Hawk-Eye installed so as to keep things on an even keel? Probably not.
Unless goal-line technology can be used both in the most majestic stadiums in the world and installed in the jumpers children use as goalposts, then sport will lose its universality, and the gap between professional athletes and those who support them and dream of emulating them will widen.
Additionally, if the situation did arise that Hawk-Eye was implemented at a professional level, what would happen when it fails the first time? No system is fail-safe. If the media works itself into such a furore when a referee makes a mistake, imagine what would transpire if Hawk-Eye failed, even once. There would be calls for the camera to resign.  Ex-camera’s would appear on TV to criticise the camera’s decision. The camera would be demoted to monitoring the goalposts at pub matches.
Let’s face it, we like controversy.
Anyway, if there were no more controversial goals, what would we have to debate in the pub? What would Liam, Eamonn, and Johnny have to argue about on RTE? A world with perfect sport is not a perfect world.
I suppose we’d still have the offside rule.
First published on Studenty
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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