Thursday, 17 April 2008

Hold the front page - it's official, line judges get it wrong some of the time.

They would probably be offended if you put it to them, but university academics are often very switched on when it comes to PR. They recognise that media visibility doesn't just raise their profile or help with book sales, it can also secure research funding.

So not a (day?) week goes by without me opening the paper to see a story about some half-baked study. You know the sort of thing, Professor X has worked out the scientifc equasion for why dogs bark.

It's the sort of stuff that gets me wondering whether they don't have better things to spend their time and our money on. But all was forgiven after I read an article in yesterday's Guardian.

Dr George Mather from Sussex University has conducted a study into the accuracy of line calls in tennis. Mather looked at 1,473 challenges by players in 15 tournaments between 2006 and 2007.

Apparently 95% of challenges refer to balls that bounce within 10cm of the line and line judges are wrong nearly 40% of the time when they are challenged.

Putting aside whether this was a good use of time or money, what this research does confirm is my own unscientific view that Hawkeye is a great innovation. It's not just highly entertaining it also improves the game by reducing the understandable frustration the pro's get from bad calls.

This is my favourite bit from the press release (see what I mean about being PR savvy)

Analysis also threw up other insights - a widely differing number of challenges made by individual players. Professor Mather says: "One player in the top ten made only seven challenges in 15 tournaments, while another made 52. But the analysis indicated that a certain proportion of line call errors are inevitable, so players should make full use of the challenges available.

I'd love to know who only made 7 challenges.

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