As if group sports, their intricate tactics, and the mechanisms behind the sports betting industry were not complex or interesting enough, there is a new factor in that particular block now with the potential to affect various business sectors: VAR.
In detail, Video Assistant Referee.
We have all seen it in high-profile football or basketball matches: A player does something that could be penalized, but nobody really had a good view of what happened. The home fans shout, the trainers take opposing stances, the players accuse each other, and the referees are unsure.
As justice and fairness seem weakened, technology supposedly comes to the rescue through a monitor, showing the moment in question in slow motion from multiple angles… Not a bad thing, you might think. Referees are humans, after all. They might miss something, and they very often do. An event covered from all angles and captured in video should be the ultimate proof in any court. Or maybe not?
Knowing the level of profitability involving high-risk activities and how the sports world is full of both risk and profits, it seemed surprising that an ‘objective` apparatus would be allowed to serve as the final independent adjudicator.
You see, time is nothing more than a sequence of events. And timing is everything. For example, a crime captured in a video shown in court could elicit verdict X unanimously. Show a few seconds more from the earlier stage and a few seconds more from the later stage of the crime, and the verdict can be unanimously different.
Could it be that what spectators very often see displayed as undisputable video-truth is only part of the story, leading to unjust decisions? Are those implementing such systems unaware of their possible misuse? And what ultimate purpose could such a system serve?
We must remember that the need to know is a big part of human nature. And we need to know ‘for sure’! A most official undisputed way makes it all even better. But the need to satisfy our sense of certainty can often come at the expense of truth.
Particularly today, in the age of constant visualization, where video platforms have substituted newspaper articles, and imaging apps outperform thought-provoking content, any depiction can serve as the ultimate truth simply because it serves optical nerves.
The informed citizen sporting critical thinking must observe past the first filter (what we Can see at first sight) and the second (what we are allowed to see when examining).
On a positive note, I know of no instance where VAR was proven wrong, although various reputable coaches have complained about it in the media. Maybe it has, maybe not.
On the negative side, sports events are my last worry…