ELI tells whether a tennis ball has nipped the tape or has just missed it, which is something few linesmen are capable of doing with infallibility.
"ELI eliminates the possibility of human error," says Karsten, "and I'm the first to admit that tennis officiating is full of it. It also reduces the number of official judges for a match from 12, which is ridiculously high, to three."
Those three would operate 10 transmitter-receiver sets needed for a singles match (14 for doubles) and something called a vibrometer which would detect "let" serves.
ELI not only would make the close calls that cause such controversy now, but also would announce his decisions from a three-word vocabulary of "Out," "Footfault" and "Fault."
Karsten looks forward to a day when ELI might also call balls and strikes for baseball or measure first downs in football.
"We've gotten an excellent response from tennis people already," says Karsten. "Not all of the other umpires like it, of course, but those who understand I'm trying to help them don't mind. They know they will always be needed to run the machines and interpret the rules."
Karsten believes he could start supplying major tennis tournaments with a perfected model of ELI by next June. Already, he says, the Virginia Slims women's tour is interested.
HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
Stashed behind his office desk, Earl Banks, Morgan State football coach, has a shopping bag filled with hair from 41 human heads, a gift from his freshman football players. The tradition at Morgan is that freshman candidates cut their hair before each season.
"It's the first year they ever presented it to me," a bemused Banks said. "They presented me with something they hold—uh, held—very dear to their hearts."