Let's Deal With This Replay Thing Once And For All

Here's the deal: instant replay's not perfect. Matter of fact, it's not even close. It slows down games considerably, and worse, that slowdown gets accounted for with faster timing rules, not fewer commercials. Moreover, it sucks the life and momentum out of a stadium and game, especially when "every play is reviewed."

And yet, we can't imagine the game without it these days; every week, there's at least one play overturned -- often at great consequence* -- and plenty more that at least require another look. We can't go back to the days where there's no recourse against a bad call, after all.

There is, of course, a Plan B, and that's the NFL's instant replay system. In the NFL, teams are limited to two challenges at the coach's discretion outside of 2:00 left in each half, and if a coach successfully challenges twice in one game (THIS NEVER HAPPENS), he gets a third.

So there's that possibility, and it introduces the added layer of gamesmanship to the replay system, which means even more intrigue. Except... why the hell should gamesmanship play any role in getting calls correct? Is the idea to actually eliminate bad calls, or is it just to give the appearance of addressing the situation while keeping the game moving? And if so, is that a bad thing?

Personally--and I realize this concept takes little courage to posit--but I think a compromise between the two concepts would be effective. The replay is used far more often in college football, and while the referees are also generally worse, nobody would argue that the NFL needs significantly more replay timeouts.

The NFL's decision to open the last two minutes up to booth review is generally wise, and it could certainly be argued that far more than just the last two minutes of each half are vitally important in each game. So why not five minutes? Or ten? Or even the entire second and fourth quarters?

Meanwhile, while it's certainly wise to limit coaches' challenges to avoid frivolous tosses of the red flag, the real wisdom lies in merely limiting incorrect challenges. If a team gets boned by multiple incorrect calls--especially with the college referees working (hi 2006 Outback Bowl)--it shouldn't have to start doing any math on whether it's worth using one of three (tops) correct challenges. One incorrect challenge per half would suffice, no?

At any rate, it's likely that not everybody agrees with me on any point other than "instant replay is generally pretty cool and it's a good thing it's at least available, " so discussion goes below. If you try to put it above, you'll just be typing thoughts into your address bar, and that doesn't solve a damn thing.

*Marvin McNutt's two touchdowns against Georgia Tech and Arizona, for example.

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