Time for Drones to Umpire Games in Real-Time

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Lavender Bushranger

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 25, 2005
AFL Club
Gold Coast
Umpiring AFL is hard.

Nigh on impossible.

And as such, they are pathetic at it. Umpiring this season has been utterly awful and I'd go as far as to say that they've completely lost the plot.

But to be fair, I don't blame them. How on earth can they be expected to see everything?

The answer, is that they shouldn't be expected to see everything.

The game has evolved, but the way it is umpired is still stuck in the 1960s. Sure, there are now 3 of them - but aside from that it's the same outdated model. It no longer works.

The one area ironically, that hasn't changed is goal umpiring. There's still one guy/woman. Still one footy. Still a pack of players contesting the goal line. The game itself, has not evolved to the point where an overhaul of the way goal umpiring is conducted is required. Maybe stadiums are louder these days? That's the only thing that has changed in that sense. Yet, the AFL introduced the review system!

The one area of umpiring that doesn't really need it! Meanwhile, we have 3 field umpires sprinting up and down a field all day trying to adjudicate hundreds of contests every week - all whilst exhausted and all whilst also requiring technical and physical skills such as bouncing the ball.

It's just ludicrous. It's no wonder they miss so much.

So, it's time. It's time for certain adjudications to be taken out of the field umpires hands. The following should not be up to the field umpire:

1. Goal umpiring decisions.
Get 2 goal umpires if you need them. The field umpire is wasting their time and effort getting involved in something that already has someone with the sole responsibility of making decisions relating to goals. They also have the Video Review System FFS! Field umpires do not need to waste their time or effort worrying about it.

2. Out of bounds.
Get another couple of boundary umpires if you need them. If you need them. There's already 4 FFS. As per above, the field umpire is wasting their time and effort getting involved in something that already has two people with the sole responsibility of making decisions relating to out of bounds.

3. 50m Penalties.
This should be done in real-time via a bunker. We can all see on TV, far better than the umpire, whether someone has crept over the mark. the umpires miss it every week dozens of times. They miss it, because they have 100 other petty, shitty little things that they focus on (like running through the mark to receive a handball FFS. Seriously.). Some dude in a bunker should have a whistle which he can use to ping guys from afar that encroach on the mark. The umpire can then just worry about adjudicating the rest of the play. And hopefully, actually get it right for once.

4. Off-the Ball Holding and Blocking
It's time for the drone to be the 3rd umpire. Some dude should be sitting in a bunker somewhere watching an aerial view of the game and making off the ball decisions. Again, the field umpires miss so much of this stuff that it's not funny. So they're being taken away from their real job to do this - which is to adjudicate contests ultimately, yet actually adding very little value to the off the ball stuff.
I'd even be be inclined to let the 2nd Goal Umpire make off the ball decisions. Anyone other than the field umpires.

The field umpire's role must be reduced. They are being asked to do way too much, and they simply can't do it.
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kranky al

Premium Platinum
Jun 30, 2009
AFL Club
West Coast
Other Teams
east perth www.pixelpac.com.au
i feel that missing things because of perspective is the thing that least bothers fans.

its more the ever more subjective rules they keep kneejerking - with impossible to adjudicate interpretations that change week by week.

i and id imagine most fans, commentators, players, umpires and administrators would not be able to coherently illustrate the current holding the ball rule and then play a rematch of a footy game and show you that its been consistently applied to a majority of calls or non calls in that or any other game.

quite frankly its a dogs breakfast of a rule and listening to bemused commentators try to describe why it went that way goes to illustrate it.

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