Scenes such as these are becoming all too common in pro sports these days, as far as Kurial is concerned. (Keith Allison photo, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scenes such as these are becoming all too common in pro sports these days, as far as Kurial is concerned. (Keith Allison photo, via Wikimedia Commons)

KURIAL: Let’s pick up the pace

Over analyzing of replay has left small town sports with a superior speed of play

Watching football this year I’ve picked up on a few things. The players are better than ever, Tom Brady remains ageless, and the games are long. Very long. And it’s not just football where this trend seems to be occurring. Soccer, hockey, baseball and more have all expanded their replay capabilities recently, leading to just about anything and everything being available for review. The intent may be good, to try and ensure every play is called perfectly. But for this viewer anyway, it seems like too much.

This is where small town sports have an advantage. Rampage games are not bogged down by excessive trips to the control room in Toronto to see if a player had his skate an inch offside. The PRFC soccer teams don’t need lengthy VAR delays to determine the voracity of a foul. And while our town doesn’t have a football scene, the athletes I’ve met in its closest local equivalent, rugby, would gawk at the idea of stopping play to iron out some minutiae of the game.

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PRFC women won their third tournament in a row at the 2019 Haisla Annual Soccer Tournament in Kitimat. No replay was necessary to ensure that both lively competition and fun was had, by both players and fans. (Gerry Leibel / The Northern Sentinel)

This is not to say I am a fan of getting things wrong. Replay is a valuable asset to any game, and has ensured the proper course of events has been taken in countless scenarios. But I believe we are now trying to fine-tune our games to an unnecessary extent. At some point judgement calls need to be left up to the referees on the field, lest we spend entire afternoons trying to figure out whether a play constituted pass interference, or whether two minutes before a goal was scored a player was inconsequentially offside.

Many of these expanded replays have been instituted as a result of an egregious mistake by a referee; see last year’s NFC title game. Rather than subject every call to review as a result of these outliers, I would rather see a tightening of officiating to make sure these events don’t happen again. There is something to be said for still being able to watch a game flow naturally, and with the way pro sports are going, it is something that now seems more and more to remain only at the amateur levels.

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Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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