Did Michael Phelps really win the 100m Olympic butterfly?

No one can tell.

As the swimming officials explained, his split-second victory couldn’t be adjudicated with human eyes. They needed a computer. And increasingly it’s the same story across the sporting world.

Aye, Eye!

Umpires and referees are no longer trusted. England’s first-half try against South Africa in the rugby World Cup final was invalidated by video review;

when´s kick-off?

American football coaches have a red flag they can throw twice a game to force similar reviews.

The Redskins Quarterbacks

European football may soon go that way.

Visca Barça

This mechanisation of judgement may improve accuracy, but at a cost. To benefit from the new objectivity, sports must themselves become measurable. Michael Phelps wasn’t necessarily the one who touched the end of the pool first: he was the one who put sufficient pressure on the touchpad to stop the clock. But there is a larger cost, too: sport becomes less gladiatorial and more Irrigative. Games get slowed down or stop (to the delight of the advertisers) as decisions are reviewed. It makes one yearn for the days when people saw human error as just part of the game.

303/365: XV – The Devil

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