By: Daniel Massa – Staff Writer
I hate the use of instant replay reviews in sports.
There, I said it.
Well, I guess I should clarify. I hate the constant use of instant replay reviews sports fans have become accustomed to.
Instant replay is an easy thing for sports fans to support because it does have a fundamentally fair and simple intention: getting calls right.
However, I think professional sports leagues, highlighted by the NFL, which has utilized instant replay longer than any other league, have taken instant replay and morphed its use into something way more complex than was originally intended.
Let’s take a closer look at the NFL and the MLB, as those two sports receive the most focus directed toward their implementation of instant replay.
One of my biggest concerns about instant replay is the occasional confusion regarding what can and cannot be reviewed and the rationale for why certain plays aren’t reviewable.
For example, in the NFL, field goals and extra points cannot be reviewed when there is an instance of the kick sailing over one of the uprights. The decision on what down it is cannot be reviewed. So, a potential scoring play and a factor that could play into which team has possession are not reviewable, but the location of the football within an inch is?
Switching from the gridiron to the diamond, the MLB just established manager challenges this season to loud criticism from a wide spectrum of the sports world. I am fundamentally against any sort of review being used in baseball, as I believe it takes away some of the drama which has made baseball famous.
In a game so rooted in tradition, replay reviews have almost deemed MLB’s past a lesser version of the current game, making it seem incomplete and incompatible with today’s MLB just because the replay technology wasn’t available in the past.
Not only is the use of replay damaging to baseball, but the way it has been implemented is almost a mockery.
Whenever there is a close play, viewers will see the manager walk as slowly as possible out of the dugout toward the umpire, giving another coach in the dugout enough time to talk on the phone to another coach watching the play and deciding whether the manager should challenge.
Once a manager reaches the umpire, he’ll turn toward his own dugout and talk to the umpire about who knows what until he gets a signal from the dugout about whether to challenge. Who wants to watch that?
The NFL has been consistently criticized for the amount of commercials during games, especially the notorious sequence following a touchdown where there is a commercial after the almost automatic extra point and then another commercial after the ensuing kickoff, which is most likely to result in a touchback.
NFL game broadcasts have become even choppier since 2012 when the owners adopted a new rule deeming all turnovers automatically reviewable.
According to ESPN’s website, through week six, there have been 242 total turnovers in 91 games, which amount to about 2.66 per game. Now, just because turnovers may be automatically reviewed does not mean they will be, but the possibility is there for up to three reviews per game; and those aren’t even counting the two challenges each head coach may use, along with the third challenge unlocked if a head coach wins his first two challenges.
According to a Sports Illustrated interview with NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino, average delay times for replay reviews through the first three weeks of the preseason were 2:07.
So, assuming each turnover is reviewed and coaches use the maximum number of allowed challenges, as many as 18 minutes could be spent merely on replay review. That’s more than a quarter of a game.
I’ll conclude with something that some of you might consider counterintuitive, especially those of you that know me. I’m as passionate a sports fan as they come. I’m a sport management major and intend to make my living in the sports industry.
However, I realize sports are ultimately nothing more than entertainment. The fact that so much time and energy has been devoted to something that is ultimately trivial can be alarming to me sometimes.
I know I’ll still be glued to the TV Sunday watching my beloved Packers. I just hope I won’t have to sit through over a quarter’s worth of replay reviews.