Saturday Morning Quarterback

Replay belongs in sports when practical
Feb 1, 2014

 

At some point during the Super Bowl tomorrow, the referee will step away from the field, walk over to what is called “the hood”, stick his head under a cover and watch several replays of the play he just saw live.

He’ll return to the field and say “after further review” the previous play is confirmed or reversed.

The NFL has used replay long enough teams and fans have gotten used to it. It’s also been used in limited fashion in most other major team sports, even at the college level.

Major League Baseball has used replay to review home runs for a few years now and recently expanded its use starting next season.

Baseball was slower to adapt to replay than the other sports and is more steeped in tradition. Some are afraid we won’t see managerial tirades like what we used to see from Earl Weaver and Billy Martin when replays can show the umpires were right, or the errant calls can be corrected.

I like tradition as much as anyone. In fact, with these high gas prices, transportation worked perfectly well with the horse and buggy. Never mind the fact I’ve never used that mode of transport. The newspaper business was a lot healthier when it was the only form of mass media. But I like to listen to radio, watch TV and have even learned to surf the ‘Net and dipped the toe into social media.

Anyhoo, a number of reasons have been given over the years against the use of replay.

The one that makes the least sense is it takes the human element out of the game. Well, when organized sports as we know them began more than a century ago, there was no replay, instant or otherwise. Officials were needed to enforce the rules and police the action because there was no other way to keep order.

But the purpose of playing a game is to win based which team is better, is better prepared or just plays better. In other words, let the teams decide the outcome on their own and not based on an official’s bad call.

Friendship Christian’s girls had more of the “human element” than they wanted Tuesday night when an end-of-third quarter basket was taken away after the officials decided – well after the fact – the Lady Commanders couldn’t have inbounded the ball and gotten off a shot in the final .6 seconds.

That’s exactly the type of play that is covered by replay in the NBA and major college basketball.

But the kind of technology needed to implement replay at the high school level is too expensive and not readily available. Thus, games have to be decided like they always have – by the human element.

But when and where the technology is available and practical to make right a wrong call without being intrusive on the game, it should be used.

Replay doesn’t yet cover all elements of an NFL game. Officials are still needed to make the judgment calls. Someday, there may be a system in place where every call can be made correctly without impeding the flow of the game.

But in the meantime, we hope that “upon further review” Super Bowl XLVIII will be remembered for the play of Peyton Manning or Marshawn Lynch and not for the blown call by the men blowing whistles.

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