December 2, 2012;Baltimore, MD, USA;A general view of the Instant Replay booth during the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens at M

Tad Boyle, Colorado Latest Example of Replay Gone Wrong


December 2, 2012;Baltimore, MD, USA;Referee Al Riveron goes into the Instant Replay booth during the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens at M

The final play in regulation of the Colorado vs Arizona game is the most recent reminder in a regular scheduled broadcast of the series Referees Gone Wrong. They have instant replay so of course the decision will be right. Wrong. Replays are becoming a detriment to games in almost all aspects, especially when the refs still get it wrong.

Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle had this to say to ESPN about the play in question (linked here) after the game

Get rid of instant replay. In basketball, football, human error is part of our game. If human error is part of the game, let the officials call the game. Players, coaches and officials will make mistakes. It’s part of the game. We spend all this money on replays and officials and we still can’t get it right. Get rid of it.

Boyle got it right. We are playing a game. The idea behind instant replay is to get the call right. But too many times they don’t. Replay is not the level of officiating needed, officials are—that’s why they’ve more or less always been a necessary part of the game. Each game does not require replay. Each game requires officials.

Instant Replay is the Supreme Court of games. Each game is not a Supreme Court Murder Trial. The referees are not Justices weighing evidence, referee precedents, and deciding fate. It’s still a game. If anything, referees are arbiters of the rules, making split second decisions. And both teams entered into an agreement to abide by their decisions, even though one team is unlikely to be happy with the ruling.

Ideally replay takes the pressure off of the officials to make the right call in real time. That’s an excellent effect of having replay. But even with replay officials don’t get the call right, and the time spent at the replay monitor adds to the pressure of the decision to get the call right. This decision, the Green Bay/Seattle replacement refs, Jim Schwartz challenging a non-challengeable play come to mind as high pressure situations gone wrong.

Replays should be most important to the results of the game. If they aren’t helping that, then they are slowing, and elongating games for fans in the stadiums. They are most designed for TV where the audience can see the minutia of toss up decisions, splitting-hair decisions about whether or not he did have control of the ball, or foot was actually on the line.

For fans in the stadiums, replay decisions are like the Roman Coliseum, looking up at the Roman Emperor waiting for a thumbs up or thumbs down decision. “Are you not entertained?” shouts the replay official who oddly looks like Maximus Decimus Meridius, after taking nearly 10 minutes to make a decision. Honestly, No. I want to be, I want to watch the game, but waiting for the result of an instant replay is like waiting for a coin flip. Heads he is in bounds, tails he is out of bounds. For the fans in the stadium, the heads up decision would be to eliminate the process of replay altogether.

But they use replay so much now that it is even ruining television broadcasts, even though replays are built into the script of the game. What the officials rule, should be what happens. They are the arbiters.

Replay is very American in that it’s a checks and balances of the officials. They get protection from making the wrong call and are held accountable to their decisions by the replays. But if we don’t allow officials to do their jobs, then they won’t be able to do it well enough.

Thursdays Colorado v Arizona game is an example of the only scenario where instant replay would be desirable in basketball, but they still didn’t get it right. The ball was out of Sabatino Chen’s hand. Games are just that—games. They don’t require replay to decide the outcome they need officials. Officials like Laird Hayes in last year’s Super Bowl who made what was called the greatest call in Super Bowl history, when he correctly called both of Mario Manningham’s feet were in bounds. 10 minutes later, replay confirmed it.

Tags: Basketball Replay Tad Boyle University Of Arizona Wildcats University Of Colorado Buffaloes

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