Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It Wouldn't Be The NHL Playoffs,

if there wasn't a video review controversy...

Of course, the Buffaslugs fans will never get over the proper call that was made by the NHL in 1999 (for the umpteenth time, the player with the puck cannot be in an offside position. Check Rule 83.1 if you don't believe me. Besides, Calgary got hosed worse in 2004.) and now they are certain to howl for days about the call last night should they end up losing this series (maybe they should try playing hard before the other team takes a 2-0 lead).

Now this isn't the first time we've had issues with video review getting a case of the inconclusives and not being able to provide a definitive answer to the question that they're being asked.

I remember Game 5 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals when the Caps had an apparent game tying third period goal wiped out because Dominek Hasek had strategically placed his water bottle to obscure the view of the goal line. (Ever wonder why there are now sleeves for the goaltender's water bottle on the back of the goal? That's why.)

JP takes a shot at explaining how it was a goal, but he isn't exactly on the money. First of all, there is a considerable distance between the crossbar of the goal and the camera lens. That makes a huge difference because it determines just how far back the angle is of the camera as it looks down on the goal. Of course we wouldn't need to have an offset angle if the goal line and crossbar were the same width (the goal line is 2 inches wide, the cross bar is 2 3/8 O.D. x .125 wall H.S. tube) in the first place. But the NHL doing something logical????? Please...

Furthermore, issues with replay aren't confined to the NHL, the NFL has often tinkered with their system and some would say has never really gotten it perfected. Remember last fall's Maryland-Klempsun football game? The Terps had a safety call overturned and almost lost that game thanks to replay (there was no conclusive video evidence to support the call made by the booth) and then there was the outrageously bad Oregon-Oklahoma call that cost Oklahoma a win.

The problem with replay is that it needs humans in order to function properly and considering that instant replay is designed to be a check on humans in the first place, you still have an imperfect system. Yes, we like to think that technology and enough pairs of eyes can get everything right but that just isn't going to happen because mistakes will still be made. Most people cannot appreciate the speed at which the action happens on the ice/field/court and therefore have no understanding about the split second decisions the officials must make. Therefore, there are going to be mistakes.

So what should we do with instant replay? Well, I don't think it is an entirely bad idea, but we need to drop this illusion that it is perfect and will correct all mistakes. Replay officials who clearly make mistakes should be harshly punished but in those rare instances like last night where conclusive video evidence does not exist in either way, we should do what we did before instant replay existed.

Deal with it.

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