Wednesday 25 November 2009

If a tree falls in the woods...

England and South Africa will use the referral system in the forthcoming Test series, thus ensuring that the issue of television replays stays high on the agenda. 

Brit at Think Of England had a further take on Thierry Henry, who has asked TV companies to stop showing slow-motion footage of his handball. 

'As a footballer you do not have the luxury of television to slow the pace of the ball down 100 times to be able to make a conscious decision,' he said. 'People are viewing a slow motion version of what happened and not what I or any footballer faces in the game. If people look at it in full speed you sill see it was an instinctive reaction'.

Henry essentially argues that slow motion replays actually show something that wasn't present live; that they invite interpretation of an event that is being distorted by the showing. 

Is he right? Can straight-up raw footage include something that isn't there? One thing is certain about the referral system: it's all about interpretation.


Thiru Cumaran said...

Look, what Henry did was totally wrong!

I mean, even after he scored the goal and celebrated, I'm pretty sure that, at the back of his head, a voice kept telling him that he did use his hand. He could've just gone to the ref and told him abt his concerns and, in all probabilities, the decision to give a goal would be revoked.

It's something like what Graeme Smith does (and AB deVilliers, on occasions). He often takes a catch but then goes to the ump and tells that he isn't sure and to check with the 3rd ump!

Henry's a cheat, chapter closed!

Leg Break said...

He's a dreadful man. Always choked in the big ones, so decided to cheat.

As it happens both Woods and Federer also make me want to reach for the spitoon.

Brit said...

Life was a lot easier when we just relied on the officials - now we can't escape the tyranny of the replay whereby too often TV doesn't help officials so much as expose them as incompetent. Some sports seem to have coped with it very well (tennis, rugby league) but (run-outs apart) cricket hasn't remotely come to terms with it and football is frightened of it. This could be because of the nature of the sports (football relies on its fluidity, and cricket is a game of fine margins which even mega-slow motion replays can't always clarify.)

If we want to take this problem to its philosophical limits, however, the aim can't be Absolute Objective Truth because even HD cameras can sometimes lie. The aim therefore has to be a workable solution where the officials are allowed to officiate, thus keeping the game flowing, but with as much 'help' from the TV as possible so that they're not made to look useless. This is apparently easy for tennis but v hard for cricket and football.

Tom Redfern said...

what a wonderfully philosophical reply. Something there which we cannot see; metaphysical stuff only a frenchman could ....

duckingbeamers said...

Henry's right, at least with the question about slow-motion replays. Far from being the gold-standard of reality (as they are often perceived in the cricket world), they too can be the Platonic shadows on the wall.

To take one famous example from America: during the infamous Rodney King trial, in which several officers were tried for assaulting him (all caught on videotape), the officers' defense lawyers insisted on showing the tape in slow-motion, so slow that what seemed a simple conclusion -- the officers were beating the hell out of a poor black man -- turned into something else completely.

As John Fiske wrote:

"For example, some two-thirds of the way through the beating there was a lull in the action that was suddenly broken by a policeman stamping on the back of King's neck and driving his face into the pavement, whereupon the beating started again. Rodney King had been lying face down and slowly moved his hands behind his back as though preparing to be handcuffed. In my judgment, as he did this, his left foot moved two inches upwards and three or four inches to one side. It could have been an involuntary movement, in an attempt to balance his hands. However, the defense froze the image of King's leg at its maximum elevation, drew a circle around it to isolate it from his hands, and argued that it showed King was about to rise and attack the officers once again, that his leg was "cocked."


(I'm sorry to use such a charged example, and I don't want to repeat the King trial. My only point is that both the defense lawyers in those case and Henry understand that cameras and slow-motion replays can often obscure, rather than illuminate. You can never take interpretation out of the question.)