Racewalking And Robot Umpires: What Makes A Sport A Sport?

As someone who watches sports a fair amount– enough to get sucked into esoteric basketball conversations about “greatest” none top five draft picks at parties (answer: Kobe Bryant) but not enough that I’ve ever felt sad about a team’s loss for more than about ten minutes– I have been incredulous at the errors of officials more times than I can count. Plays right in front of their faces misassessed, and then we spectators are forced to endlessly review their failures in the replays. In fact, Dwayne Wade and Chris Paul have devoted large parts of their total life’s work in basketball to creating less and less plausible scenarios where they will feint or dive or flail in order to get a referee to blow their whistle. As I’ve said to my TV so many times, its ridiculous.

Pablo Torre frequently predicts the the coming rise of robot umpires in professional baseball. These machines, hopefully still dressed as human umpires but with wheels for feet, would never miss calls and would add the precision of the touch pads in Olympic swimming or the finish line cameras in sprinting. The would remove the element of human error from the management of baseball games and eliminate the need for me to shoot up off my couch, disgusted with an errant call. While most of the time I think I agree with Torre, take a moment to watch this Minute Physics video on race walking. It probably will not change your mind on the situation, but (as the corporate automatons say) it may add some color to your point of view.

About the Author: Gus Caravalho is the editor of ALTTAB Radio, a blog and podcast about sports and other things. Go Lakers/Chargers/Tar Heels. Boo dook/olives/Mario Chalmers. Get more from Gus on ALTTAB Radio and Google+.

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