Opinion: Instant Replay

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This weekend we were given a glimpse into the Nevada Commission’s decision to implement instant replay in their officiating. Personally I am not a traditionalist and am not afraid of change in sports. If there are innovations to make a sport safer or the officiating better and make sure the right competitor wins than I am all for it. However, these innovations cannot get in the way of the contest. The NFL replay on every score seemed like it could create a nightmare. With constant breaks and long commercials football games can tend to drag on. When the added replays were ordered I felt this could lead to even longer interruptions in the flow of the game. This has not happened.

NCAA Wrestling brought in a challenge brick that can be tossed in during the match to try and overturn a call. Since wrestling resembles boxing in a sense that is an always moving combat sport with timed rounds and short breaks the comparison could be apt. The wrestling challenges often result in the wrestlers standing around sometimes wrapped in a towel trying to maintain a sweat. These breaks at times can be atrociously long and break up the rhythm of the match. Fortunately, boxing does not have so many re-viewable incidents or interesting positions for scoring to try and interpret.

Boxing gets a B grade for its roll out of the replay system. It succeeds in not stalling the action to halt like wrestling. However, it does not have the rapid results that the NFL seems to have on the scoring play replays. Case in point was last Saturday’s fight on ESPN between Adan Gonzalez and Anthony Chavez where Gonzalez scored a knockdown in the first round. After the round was over the broadcast team noticed the scoring punch was preceded by a headbutt that seemed to do the damage that lead to the fall. The action was reviewed between rounds and nothing was said. Four rounds later between the fifth round and the final round an announcement was made, “No knockdown in round one, headbutt. Call is overturned”.

Why did it take so long? This could have been pointed out by the casual sports observer in a matter of seconds from the comfort of their couch. I also don’t like the idea of taking a point off a fighter going into the last round. Not knowing whether a knockdown counts could really change the mentality of a fighter going into the last round, especially in a close fight. Strategies depend on scenarios and changing the score that late could change the approach a fighter makes. It could also null and void the approach the fighter had been making for several rounds based on the assumption a call had went their way.

Before anyone jumps on me with the “well at least they got the call right” argument I am not critical of the accuracy. I gave the replay a B grade on timing and ability to make a quick decision, not the accuracy of its ability to render a decision. I hope to see this used for knockdowns versus slips and rulings on cuts. In other less frequent scenarios it can be used for blows to downed fighters or determining if a punch was after the bell if a fighter cannot continue.

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