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Friday Feuds Vol. 3: How Necessary is Video Replay?

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

Photo Courtesy NBA

As technology continues to permeate the world of sports, more and more leagues have adopted some form of video-assisted replay in order to get as accurate a perspective as possible for unclear rulings. However, does this eliminate a key feature of humanity to the game, while also making our favorite sports unnecessarily long? I, along with guest Peter Houdek, weigh in on this week's edition of Friday Feuds.

Peter Opening Statement: Ladies and gentlemen who read House Enterprise. I stand before you today a humble man, pleading and begging for our favorite sports to return to a simpler time. What started as a well-intentioned attempt to "get the play right" has become a 30-minute ordeal tacked onto what was an exciting match. Video replays must be abolished for the sake of the officials, the athletes, and most importantly, the fans watching at home.

Sam Opening Statement: Sports can be a complicated mess of rules at times, with crucial calls needing to be made in the blink of an eye. While most in-game officials often have the sharpest eyes on the court, field, or rink, there are moments that might slip past even their gaze. For those moments, video-assisted replay helps ensure that everyone playing or watching gets exactly what they deserve.

Peter: So there's this thing called a Coin Star, have you ever used one of these?

Sam: Yes?

Peter: So you know how it counts the money? It makes the process look very complicated as the tally slowly goes up as it sorts your loose change. When they first made Coin Star, it would count the coins instantly. However, because it was so fast, people thought they were being scammed because the machine wasn't taking long enough to count every coin. To solve this problem, Coin Star programmed the machines to display the count slowly, even though the machine was actually counting the money instantly.

To me, that's what going to video replay is; a spectacle. When these refs are going over to an iPad to hear what their office in Secaucus has to say, it should be an instant decision. If replay centers were really that efficient in doing their job, they should already have a decision on the call before a challenge can even be issued by a coach or player.

Sam: I think you bring up a good point in saying that these calls may take too long to determine, but I also think your description lacks an understanding as to how complicated a process video review actually is. Yes, it takes a long time, but it's because they're looking at every angle they have to make sure they make the right call. These angles are not only angles that no one watching on tv has, but maybe even some that no one else in the stadium has. While a method to make this process quicker would be nice, its current length doesn't really mean it's a broken system. Considering what's at stake in a potential game-changing call, including but not limited to a ton of prize/ticket/gambling money, don't you think there should be systems in place to make sure no wrong calls get through?

Peter: Not if it's at the expense of the game's entertainment factor. If you have a back-and-forth game going on, and you have to stop to review every possible angle on an out-of-bounds call, that moment loses all momentum. The players lose their intensity, the fans get bored, viewers will change the channel.

Sam: I get wanting to preserve the excitement, but if you lose your chance to secure a win because a referee won't review a potential game-changing call, wouldn't you be a little upset? What if you find out later that the in-game call would have been overturned via replay? As for people watching on tv, we're blessed or cursed depending on who you ask, with information and angles unseen even 20 years ago. Whenever there's a video review, tv viewers are usually shown the network's angles, allowing us to make a decision at home even before one is made in-game. Don't you think, with this added level of fan knowledge, that referees should have these extra angles to make better decisions for their own sake?

Peter: Even with a video replay, do you always think the referees make the right call? Even if we are getting the calls down to an exact science, does that make it more fun? Let me bring up this example; say in basketball, a defender swipes the ball out of a player's hand and goes out of bounds. The referee calls it out on the defender, but after a video review, the ref sees that it grazed the skin of the offensive player by a microscopic margin. By overturning that call after a long review, did we really help the game of basketball? Is this basketball in its purest form?

Sam: Is basketball in its purest form a game full of human error? Are we really getting the best possible product out of the NBA if we leave so much room for mistakes in big games?

Let me bring up the tv example again. As at-home viewers, we have plenty of angles available to us in order to make our own call before one is made in the game. If we're able to see something the refs aren't, and we feel like they got it completely wrong, how are we supposed to keep faith in the integrity of the NBA or its officiating?

Peter: Well how often does that really happen? Even with video replay officiating, are we always happy with the calls that are being made in every single game? I really don't think so. On fouls especially, they're judgment calls. You can have two different people look at the same call and possibly get two different interpretations of the rule. Slowing down game footage will never eliminate the existence of the human error.

Peter Closing Statement: If we can't live in a world where instant replay isn't significantly shorter, then sports are just better off without it. Sports existed for decades without having to check five different camera angles for a turnover, so I don't know why we need to do it now.

Sam Closing Statement: Modern sports coverage has made millions of people around the world armchair experts. In order to protect the integrity of officials, video replay must stick around to settle any call that could be disputed.


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