Replaying the replays

FILLERS

BY JOHN CULLEN

A few thoughts about sports replays:                

It took forever for umpires to review a controversial interference play at first base during the World Series Tuesday night in Houston. The umpires eventually ruled the runner out, which set off a storm of controversy.

Video replays were initiated in college and professional football to remove uncertainty in controversial plays. Major League Baseball followed suit a few years ago. In this instance, it didn’t alleviate the controversy.

It’s maddening to watch a college football game during which a growing number of plays are reviewed. The standard is that the replay must show incontrovertible evidence that the ruling on the field was wrong. Many times the game is held up for what seems like an eternity while replay officials rewind and review the play. In some instances these delays have gone on for nearly 10 minutes. That destroys the pace of the game.

My feeling is that if officials can’t decide after reviewing a play twice, then it is not incontrovertible and the ruling on the field should stand. A replay should only take 30 seconds, unless it is a game-changing decision in the final two minutes.

Players and coaches make mistakes all the time. It’s unfortunate when an official makes a mistake in this frantic environment, but it’s all part of the game when humans are involved. If we want to remove uncertainty from the game, let’s just take humans out of it and have computers decide the outcome.

WHILE I’M ON the subject of sports, I don’t understand how the decision this week by the NCAA to allow college athletes to profit from their likenesses will work.

There’s no doubt major college athletes are being treated unfairly. Most of them receive scholarships that are worth $25,000 to $75,000 a year, but that doesn’t compare at all with how the coaches, staffs, universities and apparel companies profit in this multi-billion-dollar enterprise that exploits college students.

If college athletes get paid for sales of their jerseys and likenesses, it will only widen the gulf between the rich and poor schools, which is already significant. The Alabamas, Notre Dames and Oklahomas of the world, which already have a recruiting advantage in attracting the best football players, will be able to tell a prospect that he’ll make more money because of the wide appeal of their merchandise sales versus playing for a lesser-regarded school like Kansas State or Baylor.

Attendance at major college football games has been declining in recent years, and I don’t know how this will help reverse that downward trend. People will become less attached to the teams as the fan base, skeptical of how money is destroying the sport, continues to erode. The big money is mostly in football, but men’s basketball has also been corrupted by the dough.

Division III schools like Buena Vista do it right. The kids play for the fun of it and the coaches get paid about the same as professors. Go Beavers! Beat Luther this Saturday!

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