MONTGOMERY - A news conference by the Alabama High School Athletic Association Thursday (AHSAA) announced video instant replay will be available for football.
The Central Board of Control approved the proposal with the AHSAA the first state association to use it for regular season play.
A three-year experiment was agreed upon by the AHSAA and the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS).
DVSports, a company that specializes in video replay, will provide equipment to teams sanctioned in the AHSAA. This company handles the Southeastern Conference and other well recognized conferences in NCAA football.
A couple of spring games from 2016 used video replay, including Brindlee Mountain's game at home in Marshall County vs. Westbrook Christian. That was the first time the AHSAA had tinkered with a video setup.
The AHSAA reports the system is probable for use in May for spring jamborees. The system will be a part of this year's All-Star Game in Montgomery July 19.
All Super 7 championship games will have video replay available. The 2018 state title games will be at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium.
No problem about experimenting with a system the AHSAA reported to aiding the officials in getting it right.
But to me, the biggest question is how many will participate with this being optional in its debut for 2018.
Who will be handling the cost of installing the system for the schools to use? Will a replay official be added to the staff of game officials? Most use a five-man system with the larger schools statewide having seven on the field for a regular season assignment.
Where will the equipment be set up? Most press boxes around here are not large in size, with the home team and the visitors having their games filled.
Could this affect space for radio stations, such as WKUL-FM, who normally get a booth in the press box to provide live coverage of games on Friday nights during the fall.
I commend the AHSAA for being specific on how replay will be used. Very similar to what we see when watching college football games on Saturdays and the NFL on Sundays and Monday nights.
A question myself and many others have, how long will be given to look at a play under review? Each team will be given 2 challenges per game. Winning a challenge will grant a team an additional replay. Losing the challenge will cost the team a timeout and down to one challenge.
Instant replay in football was first brought into the television world by a director from CBS Sports named Tony Verna. He set up a system that was used in the 1963 Army-Navy game that featured Heisman Trophy QB Roger Staubach, playing for the Navy. The announcer that was the first to describe it to the viewers nationwide was legendary Lyndsey Nelson.
Technology has improved from the first time Verna had it for his network.
But the system is no guarantee of it being correct. Video evidence on a play can have the call reversed.
All of this comes out to one point, judgement.
Nothing is perfect, no matter how hard people try to perform to it. Instant replay in sporting events can cause officials to underestimate their ability to stick to a call.
Constant replays on television creates tension for fans, who feel they were robbed because of the judgement of an official.
The majority of rules in sporting events is based on judgement, not interpretation.
In covering the Cullman County softball tournament Thursday, there were three calls in the Good Hope-Fairview game that did not provide pleasure to the Fairview fans.
A Good Hope runner was called safe at first in the 5th inning on a close play off a bunt attempt. Then Good Hope runner Bailey Swann went from second base, all the way to home, when Fairview reportedly did not return the ball to the circle, that would have created a time out and not a live situation for Swann to score and tie the game.
Swann was involved in a play at home plate in the 7th when the umpire called obstruction on catcher Rebekah DeBlanc. DeBlanc was reported to be illegally blocking the plate on Swann, who crashed into her, trying to knock the ball free from her hand.
That's judgement. Most of you know how one side of fans felt in believing that they were robbed and it cost them the game.
And in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, a no call on the final play in regulation between Mississippi State and Louisville in which State's Tearia McGown made contact on Louisville's Asia Dura. Then in the final seconds of regulation in the championship, the no call when State PG Morgan William lost possession in which many felt she was fouled.
That caused an uproar from the media, who forgot who they are in going on Twitter to question the play. All that did was upset State fans more than they were already as a national championship slipped through the grasp in the final 90 seconds of the game when State was ahead by five points.
No, I have never been a supporter to instant replay. But I do applaud the AHSAA for wanting to see things move forward in upgrading, due to the fact of technology that tries to create less stress for officials on judgement calls that many times, impact the decision of the contest.
I am a believer of a philosophy from my good friend and broadcast colleague Ken Burcham. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Will be waiting for reaction on this from coaches, administrators in the area as time moves on. Thank you.
Sportspage photo of Vinemont Eagles in game vs. Hanceville September 15, 2017.
Photo by Johnny Thornton