Welcome to the Hawk-Eye Page

Hawk Eye Debate

In July 2008, Public Understanding of Science published a paper that examined the potential of technologies like Hawk-Eye (used to track the position of the ball in tennis and cricket) to contribute to the public understanding of core scientific topics like uncertainty and measurement error. This page provides links to the paper plus some of the debate that it provoked.


The First Hawk-Eye Paper (2008)

Download the full text of the paper as a pdf file from the journal website (requires subscription or a one-off payment) or download the full text as an MS Word File [206 KB].


Collins, Harry and Evans, Robert (2008) ‘You cannot be serious! Public understanding of technology with special reference to “Hawk-Eye”‘, Public Understanding of Science, Vol. 17, No. 3 (July), pp. 283-308.

DOI: 10.1177/0963662508093370

Abstract: Public understanding of science, though it approaches the specialist knowledge of experts only in rare circumstances, can be enhanced more broadly in respect of the processes of science and technology. The public understanding of measurement errors and confidence intervals could be enhanced if “sports decision aids,” such as the Hawk-Eye system, were to present their results in a different way. There is a danger that Hawk-Eye as used could inadvertently cause naïve viewers to overestimate the ability of technological devices to resolve disagreement among humans because measurement errors are not made salient. For example, virtual reconstructions can easily be taken to show “exactly what really happened.” Suggestions are made for how confidence levels might be measured and represented and “health warnings” attached to reconstructions. A general principle for the use of sports decision aids is put forward. A set of open questions about Hawk-Eye is presented which, if answered, could help inform discussions of its use and accuracy.

Key Words: sports decision aids; Hawk-Eye; public understanding of technology; simulations; cricket; tennis.

Other Information

Further information about the Hawk-Eye system is available from the Hawk-Eye Innovations Ltd website.

The Second Hawk-Eye Paper (2012)

Download the full text of the paper as a pdf file from the journal website (requires subscription or a one-off payment) or download the full text as an MS Word File [163 KB].


Collins, Harry and Evans, Robert (2012) Sport-decision aids and the “CSI-effect”: why cricket uses Hawk-Eye well and tennis uses it badly, Public Understanding of Science, Vol. 21, No. 8 (November), pp.904-921

DOI: 10.1177/0963662511407991

Abstract: Technologies of visualisation and measurement are changing the relationship between spectators and match officials at sporting events. Umpires and referees find themselves under increasing scrutiny and sports governing bodies are experimenting with new technologies and additional “off-field” officials in order to preserve the legitimacy of decision-making. In this paper, we examine how technologies are being used in a number of sports, paying particular attention to the way in which uncertainty and indeterminacy are conveyed to viewers and spectators. The contrast between cricket and tennis is particularly instructive in this respect as the same technology is used in two very different ways. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for implementing sports measurement technologies whilst preserving the traditions of individual sports and enriching technological culture.

Key Words: innovation; interaction experts/publics; media and science; popularisation of science; public understanding of science; representations of science; studies of science and technology


The Philosophy of Umpiring and the Introduction of Decision-Aid Technology (2010)

Download the full text of the paper as a .pdf file [273 KB]


Collins, Harry (2010) The Philosophy of Umpiring and the Introduction of Decision-Aid Technology, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 37, pp. 135-146.


Abstract: Recently, technology has impacted upon sports umpiring and refereeing. One effect is that the means to make sound judgments has become ‘distributed’ to new groups of people such as TV viewers and commentators. The result is that justice on the sports field is often seen not to be done and the readiness to question umpires’ decisions that once pertained only to the players and, in some sports, to the crowd, has spread to anyone who has a television. What is more, the questioning can now be done on good grounds. This change is explained and a way of thinking about it is put forward. The aim is to develop a theory of the relationship between human match officials and technology. Toward this end I offer a new terminology for the kinds of justice that are involved in match officiating. I argue that the introduction of new technology should be done in such a way as to maintain the justice of decisions and that justice is not the same as accuracy. Justice is best served with a restrained use of new technology.

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