It’s June Bank Holiday Monday in 2026 in a bar somewhere in rural Ireland. The only sound is an antique clock on a wall which is adorned with yellow tinted photographs of the great teams of decades long gone. The bar is packed with craggy and not so craggy faced men and women. There is little chat save for the odd comment about who ‘coupled up’ in the most recent episode of Love Island.
It’s six years since technology officially took over the world of sport and now ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘VAR’ are available at every GAA, soccer and rugby ground in Ireland and Europe. All in-game decisions are now made by computer programmes, which are brought to you by Sony and Mastercard.
By 2022 spectators gave up wondering if offside decisions were wrong or whether the ball had actually crossed the line - the machines were never wrong so there was no longer a need to even discuss it.
Back to real life present day and the hot topics of last weekend were a Tipperary goal that should never have been and Loris Karius’ retrospective concussion in the Champions League. It’s been a tough few days to be a Liverpool fan from Waterford but at least Sergio Ramos and a flag happy umpire have given the rest of us something to talk about!
Sport, like real life, is not always fair. The good guys don’t always win and sometimes ‘evil’ prospers. It can be heartbreakingly random and unexpectedly glorious all in the one week. Your team can win a soft penalty before conceding a questionable goal in the dying seconds and all at the whim of men in black shirts or white coats. The luck and injustice is what powers millions of conversations the world over. Sport needs villains of the piece as much as it needs heroes, whether it’s a dastardly Spanish centre half or an excitable man with a green flag.
Don’t get me wrong, technology has its place, but too much technology will take game defining decisions out of fallible human hands and result in sport becoming more predictable. Is that what we really want or can we just continue to rely on the universe to even it all out?