Opinion Column

Upon review, stop ruining sports

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

Call me a curmudgeon, but technology is ruining sports. 

I have never been a fan of the instant replay. 

OK I guess I should not say never, when I was in my teens and the NFL reintroduced replay challenges in the ‘90s, my initial reaction was “Cool!” Since then, it’s been everything but. 

The crux of my argument is, leagues bring in the technology to ensure they get the calls right, but far too often they either are unable to confirm or change a call because of inconclusive evidence, or they still manage to bungle the process. If off-ice officials are still unable to get a call correct, I’d rather leave it solely in the hands of the on-ice officials and save everyone the five-minute break and momentum-sapping replay as pixels are examined. 

This came to a head, of course, in Games 4 and 5 of the NHL’s Western Conference semifinal between the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks, when controversial – to say the least – rulings confirmed goals despite evidence of goaltender interference and led to Anaheim wins. 

By the time this column comes out, the Oilers will either be on to the Western Conference finals or they will be conducting player exit interviews. If it is the latter, the glare of the spotlight will be shining ever more harshly on the incompetence of the league’s replay system. 

The league has no one but themselves to blame for this. 

I’ll look past the fact that no one in the league – player, coach, general manager, analyst, official – can agree what goaltender interference is anymore. 

The league has been down this road before but refused to learn its lesson. 

In 1999,  the NHL cracked down hard on goaltender interference to the point where if your skate lace encroached on the crease as a goal was scored, even if you had no effect on the goal itself, it would be ruled no goal. That season the league spent countless hours reviewing goal after goal after goal due to inadvertent toes. 

That is until overtime of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and the Dallas Stars’ Brett Hull scored his infamous cup clincher, while clearly standing in the Buffalo Sabre’s crease. With confetti flying there was no way the league was going to halt the process, rewind the celebrations and conduct a review. Instead they waited until after the cup was handed out and issued some rehashed rewording of the goalie interference rule that few could recall having ever seen before. 

It was an embarrassment for the NHL and marred what should have been their brightest moment of the season in what had been a great championship series. Instead they spawned conspiracy theorists and wiped a lot of egg off their face. 

With every blown review in the playoffs, those believing the NHL does not want a Canadian team in the final grow even louder and their ranks swell larger. 

It’s not just goalie interference calls that are ruining games, it’s the ridiculous challenging of a goal due to a potential offside that had zero impact on the play itself. Virtually all of these are far from blatant and officials spend the next eight minutes going frame by frame on all 25 different camera angles going “Did he or didn’t he?” 

The NHL is far from the only perpetrator of killing games with replay. The CFL may be worse with coaches now challenging pass interference penalties. The NFL, meanwhile, allows each coach three challenges and grinds an already painfully slow game due to commercial breaks every time the ball changed hands to a halt. 

However, the NHL seems to be the only league actively looking for unnecessary ways to eliminate goal scoring. 

I believe the game would be much better if replays were dropped altogether. Bounces even out over the course of a season and a series. 

Of course the counter argument is, what if a series or championship is determined on a bad call? Well we are already there with replay. At least without it we’d get to that conclusion a whole lot quicker. 

Now get off my lawn. 


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