Instant replay has become such a large part of the sports vernacular.
Thanks to high definition cameras with every inconceivable angle, instant replay is able to capture what the naked eye simply cannot.
Now, I must admit, I really do like replay. I think it is always an added bonus when there is an ‘eye in the sky’ giving insurance to referees. However, what I absolutely loathe is when game action gets compromised because zebras are squinting at a video feed frame-by-frame.
The NFL began instant replay in 1986. Obviously it has come a long ways since then, but the same philosophy remains true: even with replay, some calls are just going to be missed.
Take Game 5 of the Clippers-Thunder Western Conference semifinals. Replays clearly showed that Reggie Jackson touched the ball before it went sailing out of bounds, but the officials gave the ball back to the Thunder.
I do like MLB’s system of farming out its reviews to a command center in New York that houses 30 HD TVs instead of forcing the umpires on-site to try and scurry over to a makeshift monitor. But alas, baseball isn’t perfect either, which is why it had to change the language for double play balls at second base.
There are a lot of things to like about the NFL system. And I really like that the NFL announced in March to give all power of reviews to its Officiating Command Center in New York. The NFL is usually pretty quick and they usually get the call correct. However, it still bothers me when they have to waste a few minutes just to review an obvious uncontested Jordy Nelson touchdown grab.
Unfortunately, we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. Instant replay is not only here to stay, but it’s only going to expand in scope. In order to whet everyone’s appetite for perfection, (Which will never happen!), I could see more challenges being afforded to teams and refs given more freedom to check the replay if there was a question about anything.
Obviously, the more replay seeps into the game, how much gameflow will be affected? Thanks to a study done by The Wall Street Journal in 2010, approximately 17 minutes of an NFL game is dedicated to replays. How much time is actually spent playing? Only 11 minutes.
The NFL is your classic hurry-up and wait sport. There is 40 seconds between plays and commercials continue to creep in more and more. I cannot remember how often networks cut to a commercial break after a team scored a touchdown, came back to air the extra point and then went to break again.
But no matter how replay gets changed or altered in the future, there will always be a Jim Schwartz to challenge the unchallengeable.
Which of course, takes more time than usual because the refs first have to huddle and try and decide if they can actually look at the play, before looking at it anyway because the NFL reviews all scoring plays.
The best way to approach instant replay is not to see what will present the best shot at perfection. But just examine if this is the best use of the league’s time. Is it really efficient to look at every scoring play? And give a better explanation as to why some plays are deemed unreviewable and others are not. I’m sure 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would love that explained, seeing as how he got jobbed when NaVorro Bowman appeared to have recovered a fumble in the NFC championship.
Is the system flawless? Not by any means. But at the same time, I would rather have the insurance of replay than not.
Yet this is my biggest fear: Two seconds left in the Super Bowl and a receiver makes an unreal sideline tiptoe catch which would catapult his team to the eventual victory. Do you have an impromptu celebration or do you politely wait for replay to run its course?——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn