WNBA successfully debuts ref cam in Indy

WNBA lead official Lamont Simpson debuts the "ref cam" on ABC's telecast of Mercury at Fever.WNBA crew chief Lamont Simpson garnered a lot of attention last weekend, and most of it came before the game he was assigned to even tipped off.

The Phoenix Mercury were at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon to face the defending champion Indiana Fever. ABC, with permission from the WNBA, placed a camera on Simpson to give viewers an official’s exact perspective for the first time.

Simpson wore a camera on the right side of his head and attached to a headband that looked very much like glasses. The band had a drawstring in the back and a couple items sat tight on his nose to keep the device in place.

Simpson said it took him about a half to get used to. As he began to sweat, it got a bit annoying and he had to tighten. By the second half, after adjustments were made, he didn’t notice it much. He also had to wear a vest that powered the unit and sent the signal to ABC’s receivers. Because Simpson didn’t felt like it got in the way of his job, we’ll presumably see it used more often — maybe a handful of games this season.

In March, the WNBA agreed to a new deal with ESPN, which secured games and events on the Worldwide Leader through 2022. That agreement included the rights to televise 30 games, the draft and All-Star game on ESPN’s family of network. Part of that deal also included unique and special access that would positively impact both parties.

When players criticized a call, it made for some entertaining television. They’d be better off making their case to either of the other two officials who are without a camera and microphone. In this game, it caught Candice Dupree getting in the face of Simpson and receiving a technical foul.

Enhancements like this referee camera will continue to be introduced. At first, I didn’t like the idea because I though the referee would be bothered by the new headgear and extra weight he had to pack. This can help bring fans closer to the game and provide a nice in-game tough that’s not seen elsewhere. Plus, the Fieldhouse was smart to occasionally show his view on the ginormous video board overhead.

It was a successful launch for ref cam. Can we get it on the NBA’s Joey Crawford next? Pretty please?

2 Responses to WNBA successfully debuts ref cam in Indy
  1. […] Scott Agness of the Vigilant Sports says that the WNBA’s debut of the ref cam was successful and noted that Conseco Fieldhouse was smart to occasionally show the ref cam view on their large video board. He concluded by begging the NBA to stick one on Joey Crawford. Read more >>> […]

  2. […] numerous tech companies are trying to do things that give sports a Glass-esque treatment. There was the referee headband camera that the WNBA introduced last year. More recently, Roger Federer donned the Glass during a training […]

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