Silverberg: Instant Replay continues to steal the sports spotlight

By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg

Maximum Security’s Kentucky Derby win on Saturday was nullified after a disqualification followed a lengthy — you guessed it — replay review. Country House took home the Garland of Roses as a result.

Is anyone really surprised at this point?

It’s been a topic of controversy for years, but in recent history the replay review has come under heavier scrutiny as some of sports’ biggest moments continue to be littered with questionable conclusions from instant replay. In some cases, the decision to even look at a monitor has been perplexing in itself.

And then there are the moments where replay could’ve fixed an egregious error, but situational rules prevent replay from being used. Go figure.

The NFC Championship Game was marred by the lack of a pass interference call against the Los Angeles Rams with less than two minutes to go that would’ve put the New Orleans Saints in position to run out the clock and kick a game-winning field goal to advance to the Super Bowl. Referee Bill Vinovich said after the game the play was non-reviewable.

The AFC Championship game saw several reviews in the second half. The most notable one coming on a punt return by New England’s Julian Edelman that bounced in front of the receiver and appeared to have grazed his arm before being recovered by Kansas City. Replay overturned the call and gave possession back to the Patriots. New England went on to win in overtime and beat the Rams in the Super Bowl.

In the the finale of this year’s NCAA Tournament with Texas Tech trailing Virginia in overtime, a ball swatted out of bounds by a Virginia player was reviewed and eventually ruled to have actually grazed the pinky of a Red Raider. While replay appeared to have gotten the call right, the play itself didn’t seem to warrant a review.

And then there’s Saturday’s race. Regardless of whether the correct call was made to determine the ultimate winner of the Kentucky Derby, the result is a lose-lose situation for instant replay.

Replay review was meant to correct obvious error. Instead it’s turned sports into quantum physics where officials attempt to treat sports like a supercomputer that needs every little ion to be in the exact correct spot to eliminate any speck of human error.

Sports will simply never get there.

What was meant to help officials is instead being used by referees and umpires worldwide as a crutch to hide behind from their own mistakes. It’s taken away accountability, and it doesn’t appear there’s any turning back anytime soon.

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