Video Reviews in Sports – They HAVE to Get It Right

A lot has been said so far this baseball season about the handling of new video review rules. While there have been complaints from players, managers, fans and broadcasters about a variety of issues, the bottom line seems to be that just as umpires make mistakes, the officials reviewing replays are also making mistakes, and the wrong calls are still being made.

Baseball’s idea to take the review out of the hands of the game officials and have a central location where qualified officials review the film and make the final decision is a good one. The problem seems to be that the people in the video center are unqualified, incompetent, and perhaps prejudiced. That would seem to be an easy fix – find qualified people to make the decisions – and the system needs to be further expanded. More about that at a later date.

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The issue that needs to be discussed now, however, is how the NBA is doing replay reviews. The bankruptcy of the NBA’s system was on display for all to see in yesterday’s Clippers/Warriors playoff game, when Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul lost the ball out of bounds in the final seconds of the game, with the Clippers down by three points and enough time left to set up a good three-point, game-tying shot attempt. Instead, under pressure from a couple of Warriors, the ball went off Paul’s hands, and out of bounds, resulting in a crushing turnover.

The play was subject to review, and the video CLEARLY showed that the ball was bobbled by Paul because he was fouled on the play, a foul that was not called by the game officials. However, under the NBA’s horrendous, stupid, asinine rules, despite clear evidence of the foul, it could NOT be imposed by virtue of the video review – a non call of a foul, no matter how blatant or how obvious on the tape, can not be called, though the decision as to who last touched the ball before it hit out of bounds, could.

The NBA HAS to change this rule. When such decisive event in a PLAYOFF game is ignored, when it is made to believe that it never happened, the game suffers and the fans can believe all sorts of things, getting back to what I wrote about prejudiced review officials. Are they deciding plays they way they WANT them to be decided, or the way they really happened? The integrity of the

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game is at stake, and we have been led to believe that the NBA is very sensitive about all this, ever since the embarrassing Tim Donaghy scandal of just a few years ago.

Also embarrassing to the NBA is this fact. TV instant replays over the years, now bolstered by video review in first basketball and now baseball, clearly demonstrates this inescapable fact: Such reviews show that baseball umpires generally decide close calls correctly, while NBA referees more often than not both miss vital calls and decide the ones they make incorrectly.

Granted, basketball is a much more fast-paced, frenetic game, but still, these things need to be called correctly, whether its balls and strikes, fair or foul, safe or out, traveling, goaltending, charging or blocking. And when a playoff game is on the line, and an obvious last-second non-call that for all intents and purposes decides the game, something stinks in NBA-land.

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