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Sep 22

The video referee and it’s place in sport

I’ve never been a huge fan of video referee. I’ve always thought in sport that what goes around comes around and it all tends to even up over time. But with so much money involved in sport these days I admit that it’s becoming increasingly important to make sure these decisions are right. So I’ve grudgenly accepted that there is a place for video referring and providing assistance to the person on the field who has to make the decision in a blink of an eye.

Recently down under the biggest event in the Rugby league calendar was held, namely the State of Origin. In this event there was a controversial moment where a try was aworded under, lets say dubious circumstances. This decision sparked debate all through the media on the use of video officials and whether there is any need for these and whether they are just ruining the game that many love.

Later on the in the NRL finals series there came a momen where the CowBoys had a controversial decision go against them by the video referee.

These decisions have sparked all kind of debate on the news channels.

Some of the things I’ve heard:

– There is no place for the video referee
– Get back to the ref making the call like the good old days
– It’s become a bit of a laugh with the players on the field.
– They get it just as wrong anyway. Why do we need them

And some of the resolutions I’ve heard
– Add an old player into the box with the video referee
– Get rid of them altogether, we don’t need them
– Add another referee into the box
– Get better camera angles
– Remove the “Benefit of the doubt”. so if they can’t award, don’t award

As I said earlier. I wasn’t convinced about the video referee when it first came in and firmly believed that until it was working well it would cause more angst than anything. And that’s exactly what it has done.

In saying that. I’m also a firm believer that once you introduce something like this, you will fight a hell of a battle (and I believe lose it) to remove it. The root of the problem with video referee’s is in my opinion.

*The public gets to see the same footage and so gets to form an opinion*

Because of this simple fact, I don’t believe we can go back to just the referee making the call. Because wo behold if they made a call on the field but the replay was obvious that it was wrong.

I also don’t believe that we can get rid of it. It’s like tasting and getting addicted. We have had this ability to watch replays and it’s become part and parcel of the sporting arena (in all sports I might add). Hence the general public now expect to be able to see replays. Even if they couldn’t the advent of MySky, or digital tv, you can now rewind until you hearts content. Slow down the play yourself effectively becoming your own replay solution.

So, we can’t get rid of it, I’m grudgingly (not happily) accepting that.

What can we do?

I don’t have any magical solutions, although I have a few ideas.

1) The technology and video angles have to improve

The amount of angles on offer to the video referee has to improve. They have to be able to see any try from any angle to ensure they can make the best imformed decision. Having only 1 or 2 angles to work from is not good enough in todays world.

2) A hotspot kind of technology

Cricket do it. Can we do it in the oval ball code? Have some kind of technology that could identify if contact was made by highlight the contact points on the ball? Same as when identifying if a ball was grounded or a foot was out. The technology would firmly identify the contact points and you could easily see these.

3) Add another person in the box

I think another person is probably a good idea. Whether it be a past player/ref or another referee I’m not sure. I think the main point would be that the primary person had someone to bounce ideas off and not shoulder the load by themselves.

4) Referees in the ingoal

We have touch judges in Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union. Why not specialist in goal refs whose primary responsiblity is that area. Did they score, has it gone dead etc

These are just ideas. The primary cause in the first place was brining the in video referee. However that just might be sympton of the times with the advancement of technology. So rather than cry over spilt milk. Let’s come up with a solution and remedy the problem. It was obvious we are not quite ready for this feature. Let’s make us ready and get the focus back on SPORT and the players and not the referees.

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