As the NFL gets ready for playoffs and college football plays its bowl games, the negative impact of instant replay is clear. This process was introduced to try ending controversies over game-influencing calls. It has followed the law of unintended consequences -- a good idea with bad results. What started as a once- or twice-a-game challenge has been expanded in a way that breaks the rhythm and flow of games and broadcasts. When a replay occurs, the fans in the stands have little to do, fans watching television see more commercials, and players cool their heels.
Reviewing every touchdown causes a ridiculous cloud of uncertainty after the most exciting plays in a game. A thrilling run, return or pass results in a touchdown. Fans are able to get caught up in the excitement and cheer the amazing play. But wait, was it a touchdown? The most exciting plays are followed by endless delays. It destroys the certainty and excitement. zzzzzzz. Replays seem to take endless amounts of time, which is boring. Eighty percent or more of the calls on the field are upheld. There are enough commercial breaks without replay to slow the game down. This is a case of the tail wagging the dog.
Objective certainty and proof never has existed on playing fields. Even multiple cameras don't always show a proper angle that clarifies a call. Bad calls even themselves out. Football spends massive dollars training and reviewing their officials. The game operated efficiently and was massively popular before replay. There will always be controversy. Managers in baseball who argue calls are often an entertaining part of the game.
Major League Baseball is about to join the excitement and momentum-killing procedure. Momentum has always played a large part in all sports. Teams get energized following dramatic plays -- but not any more. By the time action resumes after a TD review chemistry flattens out. Now the NBA is increasingly relying on replay. I watched a Clipper game last week where the officials spent an endless amount of time watching a televised replay of a tangled web that involved Blake Griffin and Andrew Bogut of the Warriors, and they still got the call wrong and had to apologize.
Human error will always occur in the officiating of any athletic competition. Let the players play and the officials make the calls on the field. If an official makes more than a rare mistaken call, that official can be suspended or fired just like the players can. Time to speed sports up and quit pretending that any system has the certainty of mathematics.
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.
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