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The Time For Change Has Come

The time has come for FIFA, Major League Baseball, and other professional sports leagues around the world to embrace on the field technology in competition. In just the past month and a half we have all witnessed on several occasions when a little more then the simplest form of instant reply or review could have changed the outcome of a game and even history.

M.L.B Umpire Jim Joyce blows an out call at first base that would have given Armando Galarraga a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians, England’s (Great Britain/ United Kingdom) Frank Lampard gets a shot past Germany’s Goal Keeper in the 38th minute of England vs: Germany Round of 16 match that the referees missed that would have tied the match 2-2 before the half, Argentina’s Carlos Tevaz scores a goal in Argentina’s 3-1 victory over Mexico but was clearly offsides, and USA Midfielder Maurice Edu’s game winning goal is disallowed near the 86th minute on a phantom foul by a World Cup Referee, just to name a few. Now there is no guarantee that any of these calls, except for Jim Joyce’s involving Armando Galarraga, would have changed the outcome of the game, but at the same time there is nothing that can prove that it would not. Unfortunately the governing bodies of either league mentioned above seem to want to do anything or anything of any relevance about the problems being caused by their lack adaptation to changing times.

Players of all sports are a lot bigger, faster, and smarter then they were when these games were created. Media outlets cover these athletic competitions from each and every angle, giving fans replays with commentary almost instantaneously. The longer these major sports takes to integrate some form of replay or review, the further the speculation of conspiracy theorist and wise guys will grow that sports officials are on the take.

When speaking of including instant reply or review to the league commissioners that use them the least of all the major sports, FIFA and Major League Baseball, it is not a matter of not understanding or acknowledging the need for such tools. It has simply come down to, protecting the integrity of the game and the human error that has become a part of it. Basically, they want to keep things the way that they have been, as long as they possibly can, but when is enough enough? At this time, both Bud Selig and Sepp Blatter have somewhat put instant reply on baby steps. M.L.B got the ball rolling in August 2008, allowing instant replay to be used when determining “home run calls” (fair or foul), if a ball leaves the field or not, and if the ball was subject to fan interference. While all signs are pointing towards FIFA using some type of goal line technology in the near future that will automatically alert officials to scores that have found their way past the keeper. Both solutions are steps in the right direction but no where near where they need to be to truly judge the competitions fairly.

At the end of the day, there is absolutely no way to please everyone, but when it comes to replay and the use of reviews the NFL seems to have the perfect solution. Each team is granted 2 challenges per game which must be initiated by a coach using a red flag, which signals to the referee officiating that they would like the play to be reviewed. The official discusses with the coach exactly what they are challenging under the parameters of what is reviewable and then goes to take a look at the instant replay film. The head official is then given access to game film showing every angle available to make the proper call. If the challenging team is correct the play is overturned at no penalty to the team and if the challenge is not overturned the team is penalized by losing an extremely valuable timeout. This system seems to keep everyone happy, convinced that they are getting a fair opportunity to win the game and it doesn’t take away from the speed of the game nor the integrity. The NFL acknowledged the need to help its referees properly officiate a game where the players were getting bigger, faster, and stronger. They did it by introducing the coaches review and challenge system. By all accounts it has worked and they continue to tweak it annually until they get it right.

FIFA and M.L.B decision makers should take note and make some changes before its too late. Today in 2010 professional sports are big business and in regards to International Soccer it is a way of life in countries outside of the United States. On numerous occasions we have been witnesses to the devastation that can occur when these matches aren’t favorable to a particular team. Economies collapse, riots break out, and people are even murdered based on the outcome of a game, a performance or lack of during the game, and decisions made on the game. Implimenting replay will in no way guarantee that these things won’t happen, but they can somewhat guarantee that it won’t happen based off bad or missed calls by the game officials.

Sources For This Entry:
FanHouse – www.FanHouse.com
Wikipedia – www.wikipedia.com
Sport Illustrated – www.si.com
ESPN – www.espn.com
iViewTube – www.iviewtube.com
The Huffington Post – www.huffingtonpost.com
M.L.B Umpire Jim Joyce blows an out call that would have given Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

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July 7, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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