Imagine a championship match between two rival basketball teams. The game is tied, seconds left on the shot clock, two players lunge forward, reaching for the ball. In a split second, their hands both collide with the ball, but neither player gains possession. Instead, the ball goes soaring out of bounds. Immediately an argument erupts as each player claims the other knocked the ball out. The referee desperately tries to break the two apart and make the correct call.
Heated arguments like this are an all-too-familiar sight in competitive sports. From tennis to baseball to football (both versions) to basketball, referees and umpires have a tough job: making high-stakes judgment calls on what happened and where, knowing full well that no matter what they decide, players and fans alike will be outraged.