Instant Replays: Slowing down the play, and the game

There’s and obvious relationship between advances in technology and its effect on football games. The first instant replay machine was built and used by Tony Verna at an Army-Navy football game on December 7th, 1963 (The Denver Post). It took him a while to set up and get running properly, but eventually he got the machine to replay a touchdown by Army’s quarterback. They replayed the play on television for the viewers at home and everyone was confused. The commentators of the game had to convince the audience that Army had not scored a second time and that it was just a replay of the first one. The crowd had never experienced something like that before.

These days we have multiple high definition and slow motion cameras that roam the sidelines and the skies to get all and every view of the game. For one thing, these cameras not only get the best view of the game for optimal viewing at home. But another reason why we value our cameras and replays so much is to see the plays closer and make the harder, more difficult calls that the refs couldn’t see in person. The benefits are obvious. The refs, no matter how well trained and experienced they are, are only human. Football is such a fast paced, spontaneous game that the ref could miss something with the blink of an eye or a bad angle on the ball. How do we fix that? We put eyes on the ball at all times using cameras that don’t blink.

There are some problems with instant replays however. The rules for instant replays in NCAA football in particular are quite extensive. There is a 55-page casebook specifically on the rules and regulations of instant replays in NCAA football. You can take a look at the rule book by clicking on the picture of it.

The guys up the booth review almost every possible controversial play. They review every touchdown, every fumble, ever interception…. basically everything. Too many times in a game will the referee stop the clock and say, “The previous play is under review.” Those six words have the incredible ability of absolutely KILLING the momentum of the game. Time spent on instant replays can add up to a half hour of looking back on old plays.


Photo Courtesy of


Photo Courtesy of

I think we need to put our faith back in the referees. We can review the extremely important plays, but as soon as we stop the clock every other play to look over something, the game looses its fluidity. It looses its tempo. The game slows down, the players slow down, and the crowd gets bored. All we want to do is watch football. I want to see the next play, and the next play, and the next play. I don’t want to see the last play ten times in a row. Former NFL referee says, “There is not a sports official around who wants to leave a field, court or rink thinking they didn’t get it right. If you give them a tool that allows them to get it right, that’s what they want” (The Denver Post). I understand where he is coming from. But I am willing to put my trust in the referees of the game if that means watching a more exciting and fluent game.

Knowing some of the Pros and Cons, what do you think about instant replay? Is it good? Is it bad? Do we use it too much?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Instant Replays: Slowing down the play, and the game

  1. Tim Daly says:

    I think that we should keep the instant replay in football. Without it, plays like the hail Mary Michigan State did against Wisconsin a few years ago would have been called short of the goal line. Instant replay rewards the players for what they actually do on the field, not what one, perhaps out of position, referee may think. I agree that sometimes the wait it too long, but to fix this the NFL should just change its instant replay format to that of college. In the NCAAF, there is an official in the booth looking at the plays as soon as they happen. You might not even notice this because they make the decisions so quickly. This saves the time of an on-field official going over to the video machine and putting on the headset and looking at the play 20 times. Do you think this is a better suggestion than just relying on officials that do mess up?

  2. Mike J. Bacior says:

    I am a fan of instant replay in a lot of ways. I do enjoy seeing critical calls reviewed, because at the end of the day accuracy should take priority. At the same time, it is semi-annoying to know that so many explosive, exciting, close plays are about to be reviewed. When a receiver dives and just barely nips the pylon, then the refs arms go up, you almost lose some of the excitement knowing his call may not stand.

  3. Andrew Pany says:

    I really like all the cameras in use for today’s football games. All the swinging, hanging, zooming, and slow motion cameras really add to the entertainment value of game. All the angles one gets at home is enough to make them not even want to go to the game! But the game is becoming a bit dependent on these cameras. While I don’t mind instant replay, it really does damage the tempo of the game. It is a bit of a tug of war though because nobody likes the game to be stopped but everyone wants to see the right call made.

Leave a Reply