Saturday, July 31, 2010

Instant Replay

There is no doubt that video technology has revolutionized sports. Starting with the invention of television all the way to contemporary marvels such as 3D TV and Instant Replay.

Instant Replay has affected sports to the extent in which it has been incorporated in the regulations of some professional sports. For example, the NFL allows head coaches to challenge plays, and a replay booth can review controversial calls. The NHL allows the review of goals. The NBA allows referees to review last second shots as well as some scenarios to determine possession.

The MLB has adopted regulations to allows umpires to review home-runs; however, pundits still call for replay to assist umpires in ruling on fair-and-foul calls, safe-and-out calls, and even balls-and-strikes calls. There was increased outcry when player-favorite umpire Jim Joyce regretfully made an incorrect call which cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

American outcry for instant replay continued into the FIFA World Cup in which a missed call robbed England's Frank Lampard of a goal. While FIFA and International officials initially suppressed any possibility of the incorporation of instant replay technology, the organization has taken a more liberal stance on the issue and began to explore the technology.

Instant Replay has a clear advantage: Guaranteed Accuracy. The games are left up to the players because poor perception by referees, umpires, and officials is eliminated.

On the other hand, disadvantages still loom. Games are prolonged with idleness. Stoppage of play becomes more frequent which disrupts the flow of a game. Also, if the technology is egregiously integrated into regulations then it can threat the integrity of the game. For instance, coaches with the ability to review calls can use the time to purposely delay the game to their advantage.

Lastly, Instant Replay removes the human factor from sports. The imperfections of referees, umpires, and officials adds another dimension to games; as, nobody is perfect. It is human imperfection that has brought us some of the most memorable moments in sports history. The last second kickoff between Cal and Stanford - in which the band ran onto the field - is so monumental that it has been deemed "The Play." Bill Buckner's mishap in the 1986 World Series remains vivid for most baseball fans.

Imperfection adds a level of drama, a level of tension, and, most important, a level of humanity to sports.

If you want to watch perfect sports then you can watch computer simulations of games.

The answer to erroneous calls should not be to increase instant replay. The impact of instant replay should be minimized; instead, the number of referees, umpires, and officials should be increased to insure accuracy and precision. For example, the MLB could increase regular season field crews up to six as it is done in the post-season. Soccer could instill another official to help regulate the game; additionally, goal-line officials could be added to help determine possession at that parameter of the field and to rule on goals.

Instant Replay is a helpful tool, but it is not the answer to every dilemma.

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