Instant Replay Sucks

There’s Professional American Football going on on screens all around me, and once more I’m reminded that the modern instant replay rules are terrible. Theoretically refs have 90 seconds to review close plays and get the call right.

It’s never 90 seconds before the game starts again. Never. The other night there was a delay of almost thirteen minutes to move the ball one foot but otherwise have no effect. Tonight we sat through a long review to determine that it didn’t matter what the review showed, the whistle had blown. That took about five minutes, during which I was treated to images of SUV’s with big red bows on them.

When a coach throws out a flag to appeal an inconsequential play, that coach instantly earns an extra hate point in my book.

Lexus, I think, is pretty much in favor of the rules as they stand. By extension, the people Lexus gives lots of money to also like things the way they are. Pretty much everyone except the people who watch the game like things the way they are.

An aside… There’s a guy on the sidelines of every NFL game who wears a pair of optic orange oven mitts. His entire job: Hold a mitt up while the network is showing a commercial, so the refs don’t accidentally start the game.

If I was king of the NFL, I’d suspend all the instant replay bullshit until we could get down to this: Overturn the call on the field in thirty seconds or the play stands. The league can go to a minute if they pay every fan in the country a dollar.

Extra Bonus Rant: Speaking of keeping the clock moving, spiking the ball at the line of scrimmage to stop the clock is intentional grounding, and time should be run off the clock.

Man I miss hockey.


4 thoughts on “Instant Replay Sucks

  1. You probably missed last night’s debacle, which I may or may not be able to summarize correctly: Patriots punted, Niner returner may or may not have touched the ball on the way by, Patriots tried to fall on the “fumble”, advancing the ball 10 yards in doing so. Long review (with commercials) to make the “fumble” determination, after which the refs called “holding, #57 offense”, which made the fumble decision irrelevant, and almost seemed like an attempt to duck the question (at this point, one of the announcers, who makes his living off the status quo, said something not unlike “asshat” when referring to the ref). NE coach throws the protest flag, which would have seemed out of line, had there been a #57 on offense. Cut to commercial, after which the refs say “uh, we meant holding on the defense” … without then ruling (explicitly) on the fumble as far as anyone could tell (their mics were “failing”, ostensibly, and fans were getting loud, but I’m pretty sure they never made that call). NE is charged with a timeout for a “failed” protest of a call which was actually retracted. But at this point, they at least indicate which team had the ball, at which point the SF coach throws a protest flag (cut to commercial), because the ball is spotted where the punt initially ended, which would have been correct had NE been awarded the ball, but since it’s SF’s ball, it gets spotted where NE first touched the ball. Conclusion: (a) a game with far too many rules (a facet of the sport in which my beloved footie is superior to your beloved hjyokee) and (b) even with 72 refs and billions of dollars at stake, this ass-hattery will always be part of the game (i.e. this sport is broken).

    On the plus side, I watched the game online ( Among the many features of their on-line feed, there’s a picture-in-picture window that allows you to choose from 5 camera angles which are never turned off, even when not in active use … so you get to see them squeegying off the camera on a rope, and you see the feed for some cameras fast-forwarding and slow-mo’ing through footage to queue up to the perfect spot to show the instant replay (a process which often makes the correct call clearer than the replay itself). Even if the sport sucks, watching them package it into such a high-demand commodity is interesting.

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly that fewer, simpler rules make for better sports. Ironically, the NFL is making the rules more complicated as a result of instant replay, trying to define things that used to be simple (did he catch it?).

      Hokej does have a large number of rules, but for the most part they don’t get in the way; the average fan doesn’t have to know who gets to change lines second or which face-off guy has to put his stick down first. The game itself is pretty simple when it comes right down to it. Baseball lives in its own little baseball-world, where the arcana carries a certain odd charm and a near-endless reservoir of trivia questions.

      I can’t believe how thick the rule book is for basketball these days. Of course, it’s much thinner for the star players.

      Soccer is hands-down the thin-rulebook winner in major sports (with the possible exception of lawn curling), and happily they also don’t stop for instant replays. That’s better for everyone.

    • Oh, and it goes without saying that the people who wear the name of my city on their shirts are far better at some arbitrary but very difficult task than the people who have the name of your city on their shirts.

      (Have to give a nod to soccer here as well; it doesn’t seem as arbitrary as most of the others, though it doesn’t match boxing on that scale.)

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