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NFL Should Follow Tennis and Get the Hawk-Eye - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Could tennis' Hawk-Eye help the NFL?

The National Football League might want to invest their money in other things besides paying the to bring back its experienced referees. Maybe their money should go to something like the Hawk-Eye, which is used in tennis as an instant-replay system, which is always right, even if it overrules an official on an incorrect call. Roger GoodelI probably thinks that sounds pretty appealing right about now considering that controversial call ending "Monday Night Football” this past week.

Although tennis only uses the Hawk-Eye for calls deciding if the ball touched the line or not there is are no subjective decisions. The evidence of whatever call is made stands alone and the human element is removed once the player tells the chair umpire he or she would like to challenge the call.

There are some things that should be addressed with tennis that may one day lead to the same negativity the NFL is receiving right now. Some of these key points include whether to replay or award a point after a call is upheld or overturned.

In some cases the chair umpire will give the point to the player who originally hit the well-struck ball and challenged the call. But in other instances, the point is replayed. In both scenarios, one player is unhappy with the ruling. There are some points that should clearly be replayed, and some that should clearly be decided right then and there -- like when a returner barely moves and is aced, only to be (temporarily) saved by an "out" call. But one present-day judgment call can be eliminated if a by-the-book approach is adhered to: the amount of time taken between points.

I don't believe tennis needs a physical shot clock on the court that counts down 20 or 25 seconds; that's a distraction as much as it's a solution. But chair umpires should keep their own clock and set a tone early on that going over the time limit won't be tolerated -- whether you're an 11-time Grand Slam champion or a tour newbie. For the integrity of the rulebook and the sake of timeliness, hopefully thepace-of-play rule is followed.

Lastly, in tournaments in which calls can be challenged, players are given only three incorrect challenges per set (another is given if a tiebreaker is needed). At some point, tennis' doomsday scenario will occur: A call will be made on match point that ends a match but is shown by television replay to have clearly been incorrect -- and the player on the receiving end of the bad call will be out of challenges.

To avoid this, tennis should allow its officials to summon Hawk-Eye on all match points, regardless of the amount of challenges a player has remaining. That way, there will be no worry of a missed call determining the outcome of a match. Unless, of course, you're the NFL.

 



 

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