Instant replay is the process in which individual plays can be reviewed using video footage. It is most commonly used in NFL and college football, and can be requested via a coach’s challenge, or booth review. The tool has been in effect for the NFL since 1986, and has changed games as a result. It is uncommon to see the use of instant replay at the high school level, but should this change?
First, the effect of the replay system must be assessed in the NFL and college levels. Replay has been perfect for sideline catches, assessing whether the player has full control of the ball, as well as two feet in bounds (one for college). The replay system also has helped when evaluating whether a runner is down on fumbles, and figuring out if a QB is strip sacked, or attempting a throw.
Replay has also created negative effects on both levels, however. For example, many football fans aren’t entirely sure what a catch truly is now. Controversial calls such as one on a touchdown catch by Calvin Johnson in 2010, and a massive catch in a playoff game by Dez Bryant in 2015 are the reason for this. Both were called non-catches, while the majority of fans thought they were. In fact, the NFL said Dez’s catch was in fact one, it just took them three years to figure that out. In addition, replay creates large breaks during the middle of games, leaving fans waiting around for a decision, making the viewing experience less enjoyable.
For replay to be implemented in high school football, the refs would have to be trained to use it correctly, money would need to be spent for the proper equipment and they would need to provide multiple video angles for the system to function properly. Calls would be right more often, making the game more fair, and ensuring that the team that plays better wins. Which is what all sports are about. Eliminating human error and luck from the game is important, but the cost would be high, and the fans would have to suffer through controversial calls on replay along with long waits. Whether replay will be fully implemented at most high school football games remains to be seen, but if, or when it does, it is important to note that there are both positives and negatives that will come with it.
Graphic: Sofia Lee