In or out with Hawk-eye?

In tennis, a complex selection of ten cameras is used to track and reproduce the exact trajectory of a tennis ball, markHawk-eyeing the exact point of contact with the ground. This technology is known as “Hawk-Eye” and is used in other sports such as in cricket, where the trajectory of a bowl can be predicted: useful to determine whether an LBW actually is an LBW.

Unfortunately, I cannot comprehend the way in which it is used in tennis. Up until its introduction, all line calls were made by humans. Naturally wrong calls were made, as is true at all standards. This is just a part of the game. Whether a close call goes for or against you, you just get on with the next point. If you believe in the law of averages, then this is no problem.

In 2007 Hawk-Eye was introduced to the Wimbledon championships. If you are up to date with the rules, you will know that players now have the power to challenge line calls that go against them. (Three challenges are allowed per set, though this gets slightly more complicated in the event of a tie break.) Hence, the game also becomes a test of vision, but only on the main courts of Wimbledon: already making the tournament different for all participants, as not all players will be lucky enough to play on Centre Court and Court 1.

Furthermore, tennis is meant to be a game of skill and not a psychological test. Although it will be argued that players at the top level are professional enough to take every point as it comes, without letting previous calls affect future points, they are still human and respond to certain situations in the same way that the rest of us would. Take the 2012 Wimbledon final between Murray and Federer for example. In the second set (perhaps the most important of this match), Federer hit a winning shot, which Murray could never have reached, but it was called long. Federer challenged the call, and hawk-eye showed the ball to have clipped the back of the line, meaning it would have been a winner. However, the rule is that the point should be replayed. Murray gave the replayed point away too easily, suggesting the presence of guilt in the back of his mind that it shouldn’t have been his. These occurrences are common, but suppose Murray had won the replay? Then his opponent would felt mildly cheated and have an uphill mental challenge to overcome.

The solution? There are two options. The first would be to abandon this technology, reverting to how all tennis used to be ruled. Alternatively, hawk-eye could be used on every single point. Simple.