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Instant replay is the flu for sports

Arizona lost to Oregon State.

Suns lost to Memphis.

Dallas lost to Green Bay.

Every game had one thing in common: too much replay.

How did sports survive for 100 years without replay? We can’t go two seconds without the need to find out if a player’s toe was on the three-point line in a December NBA game. I understand the need to get it right, but that need isn’t over-and-above the game itself.

The common theme among replay advocates is sports is big business. Since players and coaches get fired based on results, they don’t want to see someone lose their job based on one call. The example normally given is former ASU head coach Dennis Erickson being knocked out of the NFL playoffs in Seattle due to a bad call. Of course, there were 960 some-odd other plays that year, but lack of replay on one Vinny Testaverde sneak was the reason Seattle missed the playoffs according to replay proponents.

I would never argue to eliminate replay entirely. However, replay is spreading like a virus and it must be contained. Fixing it should be simple. For the most part, institute this rule: DON’T STOP THE GAME.


No manager challenges. A fifth umpire joins all crews. The rotation around the bases includes a spot in the booth running replay. All plays are reviewed and the game is never stopped. If the booth umpire can get the call over-turned before the next pitch, it’s over-turned. If he hasn’t made a decision by the next pitch, call on the field stands.


No coach challenges. Referees can only use replay during TV timeouts or coach-called timeouts. If the refs can’t find indisputable visual evidence during the timeout, the call stands.


No automatic reviews during the regular season. Each coach gets one challenge to use as it relates to scoring decisions, face-off locations on deflections or delay of game calls. Every coach keeps their challenge if they’re right and can no longer challenge if the call is upheld. All replays are handled at a central location that has final decision. All decisions must be made in two minutes or the call on the ice is upheld.


The booth can never instigate a review except in the last two minutes of the game. Eliminate the rule that every score and turnover is reviewable. Everything except holding is challengeable by the head coach. One challenge per game, but the challenge is renewed if the ref’s call on the field is overturned.

Sports is entertainment. Waiting for referees to finish watching TV is not entertaining. Speed it up or let it stand.