Have replay reviews ruined sports?

It’s become as much a part of sports as drinking beer and the Cleveland Browns losing: You’re watching the game and all of a sudden the action stops, and you let out a groan because it’s time for a replay review of the previous play.

So there you sit, watching the play that just happened over and over, from six different angles and slowed down to the slowest slow-motion replay you’ve ever seen, all to decide if the play should be overturned.

Six minutes later the ref finally emerges from looking at a table or Nintendo DS or whatever little screen it is they watch replays on, and then you wonder if they were even watching the same play, or how they could possibly reach the conclusion to over-turn the call on the field.

I get wanting to get every call on the field/ice/court right, and that a coach or player’s job might be on the line based on the outcome of that review, and I actually like having replay reviews in sports. But there are just too many reviews.

The problem is that when replay first started it was meant to overturn the obviously blown calls that happened because a ref had a brain fart, which happens because they’re humans, and because they’re watching athletes that play the game at unbelievable speeds. But instead it’s turned into a game of micromanaging and challenging mainly because you have nothing to lose. Challenging to see if a player stepped on one blade of grass/turf that’s out of bounds, if a player’s skate was a millimeter off the ice before the puck entered the zone, if a player’s hand popped off the bag for a millisecond while sliding into the base and having to avoid the tag.

Plays where when you watch it in real time and even on replay, that it’s insanely hard to draw a conclusion on what the call should be.

Plays like this, which I think was the reason the NFL finally caved and decided to add replay reviews:

In my opinion, it has honestly made the officials out there calling the game worse at their jobs, because they’re afraid to use their instincts and decisively make a call, because they know that the replay is there to bail them out if they do screw up, obvious or not. And that’s how you get bad refs who make bad calls that aren’t reviewable or reversible.

And this is without even bringing up the NFL’s catch rule, which is an argument that I don’t have the patience or sanity to try and tackle right now.

Again, I get that you want to get every call correct, but it takes too long, and happens way to frequently. It’s almost become a burden on the fans and players, rather than a way to make sure they get the calls right.

The easiest and best solution that I’ve seen is this: once you start the replays, you have :30 seconds, or a minute, tops, to look at the previous play, and you can only review it at actual speed. Refs don’t watch the play in slow motion when it happens, so they don’t get to do that on a review. And if after that allotted time you can’t clearly make a decision that the play should be overturned, then the call that you originally made stands. Simple as that.

Honestly, I think video replay has gone too far. I don’t think it is outright ruining sports like some people claim, but it is making the game more complicated, slowing them down, and has strayed away from what it originally set out to do, which is correct obvious, egregious mistakes, and that stinks.


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