Sports Leagues That Nix Instant Replay Risk Losing Fans -- And Credibility

Glaring errors from officials on any sports field that are visible on TV should not go uheralded.  Sports organizations like FIFA, the worldwide soccer organization, have been against using television video replay for reversing an official's on-the-field decision. This continues to be a long-term problem.

FIFA and other sports groups have no problem taking money from TV networks for the right to broadcast events around the world. There seems to be a bit of hypocrisy here.  Sports leagues shouldn't be able to monetize their worth using TV while dismissing one of TV's key features, the replay. 

U.S.-based sports leagues, NFL, NHL, NBA, and Major League Baseball, also use video replay to some degree - with football using it the most of any sport and baseball the least. 

A series of referee mishaps in the Germany-England and Argentina-Mexico World Cup matches  had critics screaming for FIFA to do something about the officiating. Up until a few days ago, the only thing FIFA considered doing was eliminating the videotape replays on big-screen TVs in the stadiums where the games are  played.  



Oh. That's solves everything. I'm guessing the viewer at home doesn't really count for much: rioting in the streets?  Maybe the concern is only where the match is placed - not in Mexico City or London. 

Sports league executives talk about honor, credibility, and respect for games. If that is the case, why don't they just stop all video coverage? No TV contracts; no video cameras in the stadiums. 

And what about all that revenue? Tough luck. Sports executives can then be left to talk about the honorable part of their games. Fans can leave the stadium debating -- just as perhaps the officials might be doing - whether or not a certain play was or wasn't a goal. 

When you encourage your fans through TV, with all its technology -- you owe them. This becomes more important for tech-savvy younger fans.  If you don't give them a replay -- and perhaps a reversal of a crucial play -- you might lose them. 

Umpire Jim Joyce cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game recently. But Major League Baseball did nothing about a glaring and obvious mistake. 

From time to time, critics and fans may scream: "We were robbed!"  For misty-eye followers, this seems to be part of any game, the lore, and the drama. But demanding consumers may want to cut down on this spillage, with the help of growing technology. 

4 comments about "Sports Leagues That Nix Instant Replay Risk Losing Fans -- And Credibility".
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  1. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, June 30, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

    The best comment I heard about why MLB should not have overturned Jim Joyce's blown call in Armando Galarraga's perfect game:

    An error was made, so it wasn't a perfect game.

    If a shortstop had booted the ball on the final play, there would have been no clamoring for MLB to overturn the error. In this case, it was the umpire who made an error. But in order for a True Perfect Game to take place, everybody has to be on top of their game. Jim Joyce wasn't. He blew it. It wasn't a perfect game -- through no fault of Galarraga, but it doesn't matter.

  2. Richard L from LW, June 30, 2010 at 1:06 p.m.

    Thomas... are you kidding? The dumbest argument for keeping technology out of sports, and argued by FIFA after the blown England goal, is that sport is that players make mistakes and so do referees.

    The players "mistakes" are what we pay to watch. A pitcher gives up a fat pitch and Albert Pujols hits it out of the park. A defender coughs up the ball and Gerrard pounds it through the goalies hand into the net. Those are part of the game. Sports are about beating another team but alot of that really means making fewer mistakes than the other guy.

    But does that extend to referees/umpires? No. Two teams are competing to win but when an impartial third party gets inadvertently involved in the outcome its a distortion of an otherwise fair competition. No one goes to watch the referees make mistake. The best referees are the ones you don't notice.

  3. Marc Williams from Williams Communications Group, June 30, 2010 at 1:32 p.m.

    Well said Wayne. It would be interesting to see if ESPN or others would make replay a condition of their contract. They obviously risk losing the contract if another network is willing to 'play ball' without the stipulation.

    Having said that, will we stop watching if FIFA doesn't implement replay? What about advertisers...would Coke, Adidas, etc. pull their sponsorship? Officials should never decide the outcome of a competition, but it comes down to the viewer/consumer. I'd like to think FIFA would approve replay for the sake of the sport, but it'll probably take something more drastic to get their attention.

  4. Aaron B. from, June 30, 2010 at 2:47 p.m.

    Instant replay has been around since the early 1960s; telling fans they don't deserve to see and know everything about their sport, especially when they are there in-person, is rather insulting.

    In some sports, the speed of the game or poor camera positioning may not be able to provide a replay quick enough... but telling fans to just deal with the flaws of the game kind of hurts. Professional athletics always tout their advanced technologies and whatnot, why not take responsibility for it?

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