You know the feeling. You're watching the game. And then you're not watching the game.

Instead, you're watching a referee or umpire stand there wearing a headset while an unseen person in an office building, somewhere, sifts through replays.

Because we have to "get it right." Governments may fall. The national economy may tank. The very soul of the sports world is at stake if we do not stop the game to examine the judgment made on the field.

Most sports fans seem to have accepted that replay review is a good thing. I have trouble finding a fellow sportswriter who thinks it's a bad idea.

I think you are all stark, raving mad.

You're trying to turn an art into a science. You're replacing the orchestra with an electronic synthesizer. You're taking the air out of a very human experience.

It is somewhat tolerable in hockey, where reviews are fairly infrequent. But it's extremely annoying in football and absolutely unbearable in baseball.

A reminder here that we're talking about a GAME. It's people running around fields, throwing balls and swinging sticks. This isn't the IRS looking through your taxes. It's not your kid taking the SAT.

I can boil my objections down to this: Replay reviews are boring. There is no action, except to slice and dice the history of something that's already happened. I turned on the TV to watch live sports, and as a consumer of the product, I think my concerns should matter.

I know what you're thinking: Don't we owe it to the athletes to get it right? Don't we want to make sure we get the correct result?

There's a problem with that. If you use replay review, you're chasing an irrational sense of righteousness. Because the minute you stop the game, you change it in ways that can't be measured. Players that wouldn't be resting are now resting. Momentum may be lost. Pitchers get cold on the mound, hockey coaches can get their top line back on the ice faster, a team that got dunked on can regroup.

By stopping to get one thing right, you've altered the course of the game.

The just-get-it-right crowd will rationalize this by saying replay review should be considered "part of the game." Fine, then. Let's consider the officials' calls "part of the game" and we can do away with the time-wasting.

Also, we can eliminate some of the ridiculous situations that come up when you try to dissect something frame by frame. Is the ball in the glove when it touches leather, touches the pocket, the pocket closes, or when the whole glove closes? Does the football player have his foot inbounds when his foot grazes the grass, or does it have to touch the soil? What really constitutes "possession?"

We're better off letting the human eye make these decisions.

Yes, the ref will blow the call once in a while. It happens, and sometimes it creates an injustice. Sports presents you with all kinds of adversity, and the good teams find a way to overcome it.

Get rid of replays. Just play the game.

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Contact Sports Editor Greg Brownell via email at brownell@poststar.com.


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