Snap judgment: line calls reach digital age
You cannot be serious: Sergiy Stakhovsky photographs where the ball landed. Photo: AP
They are the tools of the trade for match-fixers and dodgy bookmakers. Theyve enabled a new generation to bet with abandon, just metres from the action. Theyve given sports stars the ability to vent without thinking, plug sponsors to legions of followers and give fans intimate updates on their injuries, reflections or what theyre having for dinner tonight.
It seems the bases are covered when it comes to smart phones impacting on the way athletes, fans and officials interact. Then came Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Stakhovsky was an unlikely protagonist for thinking about the link between smartphones and sport. About as likely as an iPhone 4 charger fitting an iPhone 5. But the Ukranian world No.101 tennis player managed it during a French Open battle.
Disturbed by a line judges call in his first round match against seventh seed Richard Gasquet, Stakhovsky didnt bother with a McEnroe-style tantrum. Thats so 1980s. Rather, he did what any other right-minded Gen Yer would do - grabbed his smartphone from his bag and took a snapshot of the scene. Stakhovsky confronted the umpire with his evidence, but he still lost the point and, eventually, the match, 6-1 6-4 6-3. But he did gain international attention for his high-tech petulance. Advertisement
I believe it was a bad call, it was a bad judgment, he said. After all, we are playing on clay, where you should be clearly able to read the mark and unfortunately, not all of our referees are able to do so.
Officials shouldnt be alarmed. Stakhovsky photographed the mark using the same device that has brought stacks more cash into professional sport. On any weekend, Fairfax Medias most viewed pieces are live sporting blogs, a large proportion of which are clicks on smartphones. Thats plenty of people in movie theatres, restaurants and in taxis - or even watching another show on TV - using their smartphone to see how much the Roosters or Swans are winning by or whether Michael Clarke has reached 100 yet.
Recent research in the US found that more than half of smartphone and tablet owners used their devices to access information related to sport more than once a day. Its similar in Australia. Telstra signed a five-year deal for AFL digital rights, much of which ends up being viewed on phones and tablets, sold in 2011 for a reported $153 million. They also paid a reported $100 million for the NRL digital rights. Crickets digital rights are available as part of a entire broadcast package currently under negotiation.
Cricket Australia increasingly understands where the future lies and what fans want. And fans are increasingly on the move, a CA spokesman said. The modern cricket fan can go to the game, watch the game either in their living room or on their device, can follow live score updates on the web and engage on social media.