Number 2: Tennis – Hawkeye assistant official
In second place is tennis – although not the technological influence that may first spring to mind. Normally when referring to technological advances in tennis, racket design is the first on the list. Improvements in materials allowed the rackets to become lighter, stiffer and provide a larger hitting area. This allows the pros to hit the ball faster, and the amateurs to hit the ball. However, in the top five, I am instead including tennis for being one of the first sports to embrace video technology to assist with official decisions.
Tennis uses a system called Hawk-Eye, which uses a network of on court cameras to track the trajectory of the ball and use modelling techniques to predict where it lands on the court. This helps enable officials to detect whether the ball is in or out of the court. Hawk-Eye was first used in tennis in 2005; the system now allows players three challenges to umpire decisions. If Hawk-Eye’s decision differs to that of the umpires, Hawk-Eye’s decision stands. Controversial line calls can now be debated and settled by calling up the Hawk-Eye referral system. Previously, questionable line calls would result in heated debates between the player and the umpire; far less players attempt to argue with Hawk-Eye and seem happy to accept that its decision is final.
Players and umpires now seem to accept even the most controversial decisions
Even though the system won’t (and can’t) be 100% accurate, its assumed omniscience settles arguments before they start and allows players to focus on the game. The acceptance by players, officials and spectators for the use a computational Decision Review System indicates that the sport of tennis is one that is constantly evolving, embracing technology and using it to improve the game for all involved.