Flipping channels the other night, I landed at the 4th quarter of an NBA game on ESPN (Golden State vs. Clippers?). I noticed the refs staring into a screen. I assumed it was an instant replay check. I am probably 30 years behind here, but I didn’t realize the NBA had added instant replay. Shows you how much I watch basketball!
When I was really young in grade school, I wrote for homework an essay on why the future of baseball will be so good with computers/robots calling games instead of umpires. It made a lot of sense to my child mind in the 1980s, having watched and played a lot of baseball. The machines would “perfect” the game to ensure every call was never wrong!
Years later, looking at the man behind the curtain, I realized how instant replay killed a vital piece of the spectator experience. How people loved to discuss and debate and argue about whether such and such play during last night’s ball game was right or wrong! Waiting for decisions from New York, of all places, dulled the baseball television experience. It was encapsulated perfectly early on, when a manager (I can’t recall who – it made national news) ran out to the home plate umpire to argue a decision from New York. The ump just threw up his hands, what could he do? New York overruled and its decision was final. What was once cherished live American drama was reduced to embarrassing impotence.
Decisions controlled in faraway remote locations with no local recourse to appeal sounds like the perfect analogy for so much of our modern civil society, one wonders if its all a giant reflection or was done on purpose.
I stopped watching MLB in part due to instant replay. The irony is not lost on me that I now watch the NFL, perhaps the worst replay offender of them all. But I think I do it for the humor, for how absurd the minuscule slicing of fractional time is bombarded by the silliness of the NFL rule book.