(Banner Photo Credit: AHSAA)
Notre Dame vs Clemson: a replay odyssey
After watching #4 Notre Dame’s upset of the #1 Clemson Tigers this past weekend, many sports fans in the nation decried the officiating, specifically the instant replay official. Replays consumed the second half of the closely contested game. Once incident involved a replay, overturning the call on the field, then pausing a second time for a review on the same play. Take a look at some of the comments about the officiating.
I won’t comment on the quality of these calls because I’m not a football official, a college-level official, or an unbiased fan (aka I love ND football). But the replays made me wonder about the prevalence of replay in amateur sports, specifically high school and rec sports.
Lingering Questions about Replay in High School Football
In 2019, the NFHS approved replay in HS football after testing in a few states. The general consensus has been that replay was well-received. In Alabama, 23 of 96 calls were overturned in 2018, proving that replay does have value at the HS level.
But there still remain a few questions, at least in my book. First, what is the cost of implementation and maintenance? Companies like DV Sports and Hudl have made great strides in making video affordable, but can everyone afford it right now? For instance, in Alabama in 2018, nearly half of the schools that used instant replay were in Classes 6A and 7A, the ones with larger programs with more fundraising. This broaches the question, is it fair to have some schools using replay and not others? We often discuss the desire to be fair and consistent as officials, but can we be fair if we can’t provide the same level of detail with less privileged teams?
A third question is video coverage: how many cameras do you have and where are they? A midfield camera alone may appear like it catches everything, but is the video quality high enough to catch the ball crossing the plane in the corner of the opposite end zone? Because of the angle on the camera, would it create an illusion where it appears someone made the line to gain but, because the camera wasn’t looking down the line, they were a foot short? One writer described how, in my home state of NC, the system is flawed for this very reason.
I deeply support the implementation of technology in sports and sports officiating. I think, on the whole, technology will do more good than harm. As an entrepreneur, though, I think we’ve still got some ground left to cover before we see parity between HS replay and college replay. (I feel the same about umpiring tech like Trackman.) The technology will be there sooner rather than later. Officials should get out ahead of it now, research the technology, and prepare for its omnipresence.
What do you think?
-Brendan Szulik, co-founder of Silbo