Better Referees, Better Sports
Better Referees, Better Sports
  • By Soogon Kim (Taejon Christian International Scho
  • 승인 2017.03.20 15:29
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Soogon Kim / Taejon Christian International School (TCIS)

Many issues regarding referees have plagued the sports industry, as there have been numerous instances of injuries, briberies, and mistakes. Some of these errors have caused controversies in many sports events. For example, in the 1986 Argentina versus England World Cup semi finals, Argentina won by 2-1 against England in the semi finals because of a wrong call made by the referee. During the match, an Argentinian soccer player scored a goal by using his hand, but the referee asserted that the player scored using his head. The referee’s call was upheld, although the Argentinian had actually “slapped” the ball into the goal. The controversy revolved around whether the referee made an honest mistake or whether the Argentinians bribed the referee. Whatever the reason, England’s hopes were crushed by the single bad call made by the referee. Another referee in a Plymouth versus Colchester soccer game also affected the flow of the game due to his injury. During the soccer match, the referee got a neck injury after colliding with a Colchester striker. Not only was the referee injured, but the game was delayed for 15 minutes, which angered the soccer fans. In fact, many incidents involving referees have affected sports games.

To avoid briberies, mistakes, and injuries, robot referees should be adopted. If robot referees replaced human referees, the sports industry would benefit greatly. For example, in the above-mentioned1986 Argentina versus England World Cup semi finals, ultimately, Argentina won the 1986 world cup, despite an illegal move. With a robot referee, this could have been avoided altogether. In general, there would be considerably fewer briberies in sports. Some people say that there could still be briberies with robot referees because the operator (the person who is controlling the robot) can be bribed. However, the robot’s AI algorithm could have anti-bribery settings, so that it would always make the right call. Besides, any attempt to “modify” the robot would leave a trail of evidence.

Aside from briberies, there are many injuries to referees that have caused the game to be delayed. According to the NHL rule book: “Should a Referee accidentally leave the ice or receive an injury which incapacitates him from discharging his duties while play is in progress, the game shall be automatically stopped” ( It is frustrating for the fans to have a game delayed or stopped because of an injury. To prevent these injuries, robot referees need to be implemented. If human referees are replaced with robots, not only would the game not get delayed, the sports industry could save money on expensive hospital treatments for the injured referees. It would definitely cost less to fix the robots. Also, the time for the robots to be fixed and be back at the game would much shorter than the time for the referees to get rehabilitated.

Every referee makes mistakes, simply because they are human beings. Whether it is a school division league or a postseason game, referees make mistakes. And these mistakes have real consequences. In the World Baseball Classic 2015, Korea versus U.S, the U.S. won by 2-1 because the base steal made by the Americans was counted as safe, even though it wasn’t. At the time, there were 2 outs and the American runner stole first base to second base. Then, the catcher threw the ball to the second base, where the second baseman caught the ball and tagged the runner. Although the second basemen tagged the runner before he touched the base, the referee sided with the Americans. Korea was winning by 1-0. However, after the runner stole the base, the hitter hit a homerun, overtaking the game by 2-1. Because of this bad call, Korea lost the game. With robot referees, there would be much fewer controversies related to bad calls or mistakes.

In the 21st century, where everything from transportation to education is undergoing massive changes, the sports culture is still much the same as it was at the very beginning of these sports. Although technology is being used to dramatically change and improve sports in many ways, the use of referees continues – and continues to be the cause of many problems. Just as phones and cars have evolved through technology, sports could be greatly improved if our ideas of referees also evolve. By using robots, we could drastically reduce injuries, delays, briberies and mistakes. Ultimately, it would allow the fans to have a more enjoyable experience.

Soogon Kim
Taejon Christian International School (TCIS)

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