Sports Discipline in 2018
In a sporting year that contains the FIFA 2018 World Cup, the Winter Olympics, the World Track Cycling Championships, the Commonwealth Games, the International Ice Hockey World Championships, the Rugby World Cup 7s, the IWF World Championship weightlifting and the World Swimming Championships we can and should expect it to be filled with as many heroic feats as sports disciplinary issues…
With each coming year, the level of scrutiny applied to the decisions of our umpires, referees and Judicial Officers grows evermore. The advent of technology to assist in both on and off-field decisions means that, in theory, we should be getting the decision right and in swifter order, but is that the public perception?
As those of us who watched, for up to 6 minutes at a time during the Autumn Internationals, whilst a Third Match Official (“TMO”) reviewed their banks of TV screens, you can but wonder whether we are better off? For my part, we are. Perhaps capping the amount of time our officials have to make decisions would be no bad thing, but for the sake of “sport”, it is imperative that the decisions we make are right. Or at least as “right” as can be.
There are those who would welcome further technology in the professional games. Perhaps “hawk eye” technology could be used to a greater extent in football? Perhaps microchips in the various balls, pucks, shirts, boots and sticks of our heroes and heroines of the sport would give more precise decisions?
For my part, the risk of “human error” is a part of the sport and it adds rather than detracts from the matches, games and events we spectate upon. If every decision on the sporting field could be made by a computer those events to my mind would be the worse for it.
However, one thing for sure, with ever increasing financial pressures upon sport budgets of every kind, the need to keep the best players on the field of play is paramount. Next year will see more challenges, more disciplinary hearings and more appeals than any other before it. As the technology improves and things like the “projected trajectory” of fists, boots and legs become an ever more common occurrence before our Tribunals we are increasingly going to need panel members, sports barristers and decision makers who have the requisite knowledge to deal this evidence. Thus the role of the “sports barrister” is destined to become ever more vital and evermore specialist.
Fingers crossed for a fantastic year of sport!
The Sports Barrister