The use of instant replay in sports

Are video reviews and instant replays good for sports?

The implementation of instant replays in sports has been a subject of debate for fans and leagues since the technology was first industrialized for sports in the 1960s. Today, every major league uses video reviews to varying degrees, along with coaches’ challenges, to aid officials in making the right calls.

As technology continues to evolve, video replays will only get better at deducing what the human eye cannot, and reduce the number of controversial outcomes in games. Supporters of instant replay will justify the need for review by pointing to key moments in sports where the wrong call stood, and a winner was mistakenly crowned.

The most notable recent example came in the 2018 NFC Championship game in the National Football League (NFL), when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in overtime.

While post-game banter should have been focused on the Rams’ achievement in reaching their first Super Bowl final since 2001, the outcome of the match was mired in controversy following an unpenalized pass interference committed by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis.

The dramatic play would later be notoriously dubbed the “NOLA No-call,” and the NFL would respond by making pass interference reviewable in its future seasons.

Nowadays, all games are officiated with the extensive use of instant replay reviews, whether it’s the deciding minutes of a championship game or an unassuming regular season matchup.

In theory, minimizing the number of referee-related mistakes is a notion worth supporting, but not all sports fans and athletes are in favour of the current replay system. Gabriel Guindi, who co-hosts CJLO’s sports talk show the Starting Rotation, is one such enthusiast who cannot get behind the excessive use of video reviews in the National Hockey League (NHL).

“Hockey probably does it the best compared to the other major sports leagues,” Guindi said. “But most of the time it does more damage than good. They might review a play for a few minutes and, if anything, I’m left more confused than when I saw it live.”

Louis-Vincent Gauvin, a second-year guard for the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team, is an avid fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA). When the league made the transition towards more reviews by adding coach’s challenges in 2019, Gauvin worried it would have an undesirable effect on the quality of games.

“Basketball is at its best when the play doesn’t stop and there is a constant flow,” Gauvin said. “Stoppages for replay reviews and coaches’ challenges can ruin the natural rhythm of the game.”

Gauvin believes that the intention to review close calls makes sense, so long as they can be accomplished in a timely manner.

“The referees’ mistakes are part of the sport, so I can accept incorrect calls here and there if it means preserving the natural momentum and pace of the game,” Gauvin said.

While instant review can prolong games and make them tough to digest for some spectators, it doesn’t stop the NBA from achieving peak entertainment value, Gauvin believes, thanks in large part to the sheer amount of talent in the league today.

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