Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Last night, Boise State looked to have beaten Colorado State University on an incredible shot by James Webb III with just 0.8 seconds left to play. Pretty amazing shot, right? It looks even better in slow motion:


But when the referees went to review the shot, they determined that the clock did not start at the precise moment when the Webb III received the ball, and therefore ruled that it actually took him longer than 0.8 seconds to get the shot off. How did they come to this conclusion, you ask? With stopwatches!

This is pretty stupid. Obviously, there is going to be some lag time between the moment a player receives an inbounds pass and the shot-clock operator hitting a button, because human beings aren’t capable of perceiving and then physically reacting to something within a tenth of a second.

The absolute wrong way to try and correct that margin of error, however, is to bust out the damn stopwatches. Staring at a monitor and trying to start and stop a stopwatch within three or four tenths of a second isn’t going to offer any real clarity. Go ahead and try it, I bet your result is going to be different almost every time.


A much more reliable way to determine how long it took Webb III to get that shot off is to break down the video of the shot frame by frame. Webb III held the ball for 17 frames before releasing it, which is equal to 0.57 seconds. Why the referees decided to rely on stopwatches rather than simple video technology is a mystery.

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