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March Madness: Why is Precision Technology NOT Used During the NCAA Tournament?

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
David FreemanContributor IJanuary 24, 2017

I had to read Paul Newberry's article TWICE through before I could fully comprehend it.

Precision Timinga technology that stops the game clock when officials blow their whistleis NOT used during the NCAA men's and women's basketball championship tournaments.

It IS used during just about every NCAA Division I regular season and conference championship tournament game. Just not at the Big Dance.

When asked by Mr. Newberry, NCAA public and media relations director Erik Christianson issued a brief statement:

"The committee is satisfied with current game management processes and has chosen not to adopt it (Precision Timing) for the championship."

I guess this explains all of the "huddle time" at the scorer's table that viewers were forced to watch at the end of a few games this past weekend; it just doesn't excuse it.

For those of you that don't know, a lightweight beltpack is worn by officials. A highly sensitive input device processes the sound of a referee's whistle and sends a wireless message to a central processor attached to the game clock.

Blow whistle, stop clock. Painfully simple, and technologically possible.

Except during March Madness, when one human being makes a decision as to when they "heard" a whistle, transmits that information from their brain to their hand, which subsequently clicks a button that stops the clock.

If there is a "discussion" as to when the game clock should have been stopped, the game officials are forced to huddle around a TV set and watch video replaywhile the world waits.

In one case this past weekend, an official apparently made this determination based on slow motion viewing of the movement of a referee's hands and arms in comparison to the game clock.

The particular referee's mechanics determined the outcome, since one can't "hear" a sound watching a video replay in slow motion. This fact, in case you were wondering, was confirmed during the Warren Commission's inquiry into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy over 40 years ago.

More recently than the 1960's (last month), the world watched Jeopardy to learn that a computer can "buzz" in to answer a question quicker and more accurately than a human.

Perhaps it's time for the NCAA to join just about every other major sport and adopt technology in its championships.

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