Pros & cons of instant replay in sports

Written by mary pletcher
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Pros & cons of instant replay in sports
Instant replay may require umpires to leave the field for review. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)

Instant replay is readily available through today's technology and has become a part of the officiating practices of professional football, basketball, hockey and baseball in the United States. Not all sports use instant replay, however, and the arguments for and against using instant replay have passionate adherents.

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Pro: Reduction of Human Error

To err may be human, but the cost of a botched call can sometimes affect the outcome of an entire sporting game. Instant replay technology allows umpires, referees or other officials to review close plays before making the final call. With the ability to replay a move in slow motion and to zoom in, they can determine with greater accuracy whether a puck crossed the goal line, whether a football pass was completed, or whether a baseball was foul or fair. Coverage from all angles means officials can rule more accurately than if they are relying on their own vantage point.

Con: Does Not Entirely Eliminate Human Error

Officials must review instant replay footage in a timely manner to keep the game moving. With modern technology continuing to advance, network and cable broadcasters and even fan recordings may capture the play from more angles than the official has access to at the time of the call. If later video makes it clear that the instant replay call was incorrect, fans are left wondering why the league wasted the time and money on an instant replay.

Pro: Keeps Up with Technology

Technology has changed almost every part of society, and sporting events should not be exempt from these advances. Sports originated using umpires and referees to judge plays and make calls because the technology to record and replay close calls did not yet exist. As the ability to observe each play of a game increases, instant replay is the newest tool in the official's toolbox, allowing him to perform his job more precisely.

Con: Detracts From the Game Unnecessarily

Each instant replay takes time to replay and review, and often must be replayed several times before the official renders his ruling. This process slows down the pace of the game and detracts from the fluid experience of the spectator. While at-home viewers may enjoy the instant replays provided by the broadcaster, live viewers often want to experience the game as it occurs with minimal interruption. While instant replay may make some calls more accurate, most games do not hinge upon a single call, making it an unnecessary interruption much of the time.

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