A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Category: Sports

Double Movement Detection

As a young researcher I see opportunities for grand research proposals everywhere. And so it was when my friend Edwin told me about the rugby drama he had experienced in an Irish pub in the final day of the recent Six Nations.

Ireland beat Italy with a monsterscore, and they were about to win the tournament. But the French scored in overtime to beat Scotland, just edging themselves in front of the Irish and claiming Six Nations victory in 2007.

That in itself is tragedy enough for Irish fans to start some serious forgetting/drinking. But it gets better: The final French try was an almost impossible call. The ball was buried in a pile of players, and even the video ref (who was Irish!) could not make the call. It was granted nevertheless.

Now to the point: in extra time at Ireland-Italy an Italian player scored a try that was contestable. The Irish in their pub were convinced that it was a case of double movement (or even triple movement). This requires some explanation.

BBC Sport: “Often when a player has been tackled close to the try line, they will often attempt to make another movement to ground the ball for the try. However, if they have been tackled, the referee will not award the try because it is seen as a double movement [if] the ball and the player have been grounded before the second movement for the try. However, if the player is in the process of being tackled and the ball has not been grounded before the try line, then they can make a second movement for the score.

A nice case of a visual perception task. The referee has to see that a player makes two separate movements and not one big one. A simple task? I dare to disagree. What exactly makes us see a movement boundary? Do we all agree on it, or did the Irish see double movement (around 4:30 in the movie) and the Italians only one?

Rubin and Richards (1985) did some nice work on Boundaries of Visual Motion that I think definitely applies. But there has not been much work on actually implementing their ideas into algorithms that I know of.

Could we build a computer to automatically segment movement? Can a robot referee call double movement? I am thinking of the automated line judgements in tennis. It would not be the first time people relied on machines rather than their own perception. When we think of time measurements for racing machines are possibly trusted even better than men. In this case I think more research is necessary.

If you agree and have R&D money to spend, give me a call at +31 15 2783908. I’ll be looking for a nice chunk of basic research work on visual perception somewhere next year I presume. Full Game Report at Irish Rugby:

Referee Braamhaar cheers after Ajax goal

Dutch soccer referee Braamhaar made a jubilant gesture after Ajax scored 1-5 against PSV. The gesture was picked up immediately by angry PSV fans. They took offense being given the opportunity to unleash their anger at someone else than their own failing side.

referee cheers

Braamhaar: “Ik had de voordeel regel prima doorgevoerd bij de actie van Tom de Mul, waaruit het doelpunt viel. Dan mag een scheidsrechter ook wel trots zijn op zichzelf”, aldus Braamhaar tegenover Tien. (Deutsch)

English: Braamhaar said he was not pleased with the goal, but was proud because he made a correct decision. “it was a nice moment for me. I saw a foul but gave the advantage. It’s nice to see a decision come out well for the disadvantaged team.”

One could say the ref was a bit careless about PSV feelings. One could also call the PSV fans a bunch of oversensitive cry-babies. But I am from the general area of Eindhoven, so I will refrain from further comment.

Tall Blacks Basketball Haka

I promise this will be the last haka post for a while, but I thought it would be nice to round off the story with a final video. It shows the New Zealand basketball team, the Tall Blacks, doing a decent haka.

And so the haka spreads to other nations, and to other sports. There were a couple more video’s of various haka amateurs (volleyball, Koreans, and party freestyle), but I will spare you a direct confrontation.

Update 2011-03-14: Ha, no I won’t!, Here it is anyway:

New Zealand Maori is source of All Blacks’ haka?

It appears New Zealand Maori actually introduced the haka to rugby (history), in their tour of Britain in 1888/89. Although this history story describes a somewhat vaguer origin (therefore more likely?) it also credits the ‘New Zealand Natives’ with the first overseas performance of the haka by a rugby team. Since 2001 NZ Maori performs the Timatanga haka which describes the evolution of life and the creation of New Zealand from the four winds. ps. The story of the All Blacks’ haka has a good entry on Wikipedia, and there is a separate story about the Kapa o Pango throat-slitting controversy.

How to create your own anchor-gesture

In remarkable similarity to how to create your own mudra, I just found a nice prescription to create your own gesture to relax you or give you confidence under stress (in this case on the cricket pitch). Why anyone would feel stress in relation to cricket is none of my Dutch concern, but the procedure seems equally valid for mudras, magic spells and now anchors. It’s all between the ears, I guess.

A stressed cricket player makes an anchor gesture? (source)

I just hope cricket will not become a game whereby a bunch of men-boys only enjoy an easy afternoon relaxing. Without the proper stress the competitive edge required for peak performance may vanish?

Van Bommel gives Real the elbow

I am starting to notice a pattern to sportsmen making insulting gestures. Yesterday I watched Dutch football player Van Bommel make a “fuck you”-gesture (twice) with a hand in the crook of the elbow after scoring for Bayern Munich against Real Madrid. A day later he is under attack and vigorously apologizing to fans and the general public.

Van Bommel

Van Bommel’s way of saying “up yours” to “certain Real players, but not Real in general” (source) Desmond Morris (1979) included this ‘forearm jerk’ as one of his 20 key gestures in a survey of the origin and distribution of gestures.

(from Morris, 1979)

Update 6 Mar `07: Mark van Bommel was fined EUR6,200 by UEFA for making insulting gestures.

More on fines and jailtime for gestures

Zach Randolph fined $133.333 for finger to fans

Yep, it’s another basketballer giving the finger to the crowd. One more for the collection of insulting gestures caught on camera. This one is recent though (news of December 10). Trail Blazers’ Zach Randolph fouled out and as he walked off the court, he made an “obscene gesture” toward fans behind the scorer’s table.

Is that enough for a $133,333 fine?

His club suspended him for one game-day without pay (equalling a fine of $133,333, or 1/90th of his annual salary of $12 million). Have you ever heard of a higher fine for the finger?

I do not have one in my collection of fines, but there have been jail sentences for gestures, but those are mostly for threatening gestures.

ps. Funny how American news sites never say he gave the finger, or flipped the bird. It is always a vague “obscene gesture”. As though writing it down amount to saying “Fuck You!” out loud.

NFL quarterback Vick gives finger to fans

After a game of American Football, the losing quarterback Michael Vick gave his booing fans the finger. Such sporting gestures occur frequently (check, check, check) as does verbal abuse in such heated moments.

What did those nasty fans say to that poor man? (source)

But, boy-o-boy, did he get grilled over it. Every news site in the US seemed to copy the item. He did apologize quickly and quite sincerely, and that also got published everywhere. So here I am too, compelled to add Vick’s finger to my collection of famous gestures. The Oxford Press says: “A frustrated Michael Vick shouted at fans and then issued an obscene gesture, first with one hand, then the other”. And they add that Vick could be fined by the NFL for excessive use of profane language or obscene gestures: $5,000 for a first offense.

Update 30 Nov ’06: Vick is fined $10.000 by the NFL and donates another $10.000. And although everyone rushes to say it was out of character for Michael Vick, ABC News adds that “Vick’s younger brother, Marcus, made a similar gesture to fans at West Virginia who were heckling him during a 2005 college game”. As far as I can tell it is never out of character for proud, hotblooded athletes. (Check out other fines and even jail sentences for gestures).

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