I predicted it the second I saw it. Carmelo Anthony’s foot went out of bounds and Raptors assistant coach Jerry Stackhouse jumped up and started pointing and yelling. Dwayne Casey followed and it was clear on the replay that the refs had missed yet another late-game call on the Raptors. They pleaded for a review but were refused. My response: I can’t wait for the NBA to issue their apology tomorrow.
They did issue an apology. The ref admitted they watched the replay after the game. After the game? What’s the point? The call stands. They are not replaying the last 20 seconds of the game. The worst part? They also admitted that Melo travelled on the play. While the technology of replay has caused days of agony on the fans of every sport, it has shone a light on one very important aspect: it’s time for Umpires and Referees to be removed from professional sports.
I’m not saying the odd blown call is reason to do away with them (remember Galarraga’s near-perfect game in 2010?) but let’s examine the evidence: in the 2015 MLB season 49.2% of the plays challenged were overturned. That means that half of the calls challenged, the umpires got wrong. It’s ridiculous. With high-definition video replay, a replay centre in New York plus the software to tell viewers whether or not a pitch is a strike, why the hell do we need human umpires? Tradition? Bullshit. Up until the 1980s, car assembly lines were made up of numerous people. Now a lot of it is automated. I’m certainly not advocating job loss, but it is a natural effect of technological advances. There is a reason every major sport now allows coaches challenge or replay and that is because the fan watching at home is better equipped to see a play than the people on the field. The part that no one wants to talk about is the emotion. Calls on the field are supposed to be made strictly by evidence but everyone knows that is rarely the case. A batter complains about a call, the umpire holds on to that and later on that player pays the price whether its a borderline strike call or a close play at second base. That’s not the way its supposed to work.
A few years ago the NBA issued three apologies in the same season to the Raptors for blown calls late in the game. The result? Nothing. No reprimand, no changes. A few days ago, while Dwayne Casey was pleading for them to look at the video, the ref could not have cared less. No human element, no emotion. The NFL has been on display the past few years for bad calls. When the officials union went on strike and they used replacements it got so bad that the league caved. If you have watched an NFL game any time in the past year, you would probably be wondering if they are still using replacements. Last month on the Monday night game between the Seahawks and Lions, the ball was batted through the end zone by the Seahawks during an attempted TD pass by the Lions. Not a single official on the field knew the rule so the call was made that it was a change of possession. The next day? The NFL clarified that if the defender bats it through the end-zone the ball remains in the passing team’s possession. Lions lost that game 13-10. Hockey is the sport where human error is least likely to affect the outcome of a game and they have no instilled coaches challenge. Why? Because human emotion leads to error and they are on display.
It is mind-boggling that with 10-15 camera angles, slow motion replay, detection software (hell, even GPS if you need it!) that such a high number of calls are missed. It shouldn’t happen and now with all the technology, it doesn’t need to. You can have a single umpire or referee sitting in a room with ten camera monitors as well as detection software showing if the ball/foot went out of bounds or over the plate. Make the same angles available to the team in the dugout/bench/sideline and there is no disputing. Without sounding too cliche, the ball is in your court NBA (MLB, NFL and NHL).