Give the bums the (re)boot |

Give the bums the (re)boot

The camel’s back is officially broken.

The dunderhead who blew call after call in Serena William’s loss to Jennifer Capriati in the U.S. Open this week has put a spotlight on probably the most frustrating aspect of big-time, organized sports:

Substandard officiating.

Raise your bowl of Cheerios if you’ve witnessed one of the too-many unforgivable foul ups referees, umpires and judges have turned in recent history.

If not, here are a few examples to jog your memory:

— Tim Duncan, Stephon Marbury and most of the rest of Team USA’s mens basketball team were bent, folded and spindled by one swarthy gentleman after another in Athens, but received nothing but puzzled looks and shrugged shoulders from the second-rate refs. n The chair umpire in Venus Williams’ match with Karolina Sprem at Wimbledon in July spaced on one of the points. The former world No.1 Williams lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) to the relatively unknown.

— Back to Athens, gymnastics judges awarded American Paul Hamm the all around gold, then admitted they goofed on the scoring.

It turned out Hamm wasn’t the gold medal winner after all. He kept the gold anyway.

— Oakland A’s fans no doubt still have nightmares about the blown call at the plate during Game 3 of the 2001 American League Division Series.

We all know Jeremy Giambi was safe.

I’ve heard plenty about how important the human element in officiating.

It’s a essential part of the game, these geniuses say.


There’s something which is much more important to the game than some worn out tradition:


Each incident chips away at the very credibility of sport.

But it’s not too late. We can fix this with technology.

Instant replay has been a staple for NFL fans for years.

There has been talk the World Tennis Association has contemplated the introduction of instant replay after the Serena Williams incident.

Why stop there.

With technology as it is, I can see computers under home plate, calling perfect ball and strikes with the use of laser beams.

Yes, I said laser beams.

I also see new-fangled football fields with a grid of sensors underneath. The grid, teamed with a specially-coated ball would use the computing power of mega computers to all but guarantee the ball will be spotted on the exact point where forward progress was stopped.

Doesn’t that sound great?

Sure, there would still be a need for biological units to make the call for say holding and pass interference penalties, but for the most part human error could be eliminated from sport with just a few mouse clicks.


Keith Jiron is a sports reporter for The Union. He can be reached via email at, or by phone at 477-4244.

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