Video review is now a fixture in all major sports. But which system is the worst? Let’s count them down from annoying to unbearable.
4. Hockey We’re cool with goal reviews, right? It’s fun to go “Oooooh!” as we see the puck barely cross the goal line, or almost cross it, or get caught in the illegal tractor beam that Braden Holtby probably had hidden in his glove this past season.
But the new coaches’ challenge is depressing. In a league starved for scoring, the challenge ensures that some super-sweet breakaway goals will be overturned because a dude was three microns offside. This page of the NHL rule book should be shredded into pieces and used to create a papier-mâché diorama of Gary Bettman pretending the new Las Vegas franchise is financially viable.
3. Football Networks bring a squillion cameras to NFL games, which means fans get multiple looks at each controversial play before remembering that, oh yeah, no one has any idea what a catch is anymore. Spin the Wheel of Whatever and let’s see what comes up!
What’s most surprising about football’s review system is that the referee still disappears “under the hood.” This is an insult to NFL branding. A hole should open at midfield, a glass chamber should emerge, and the ref should enter the DraftKings Video Review Booth Powered by Bud Light. Cue the video for “Let’s Take a Closer Look,” the new hit from Jon Bon Jovi.
Sadly, the most enjoyable aspect of NFL review is now a thing of the past. Mike Carey—the man who put the human in human error—will not return to CBS broadcasts next season. We can only assume he was lured away by Donald Trump to advise on foreign policy. “Donald, I look at the vote tallies and what I see is that the Remain side clearly won the Brexit referendum. Hogwarts will stay inside the United Federation of Planets!”
2. Basketball Skeptics said it couldn’t be done, but the NBA found a way to make the final two minutes of games even less thrilling. Turns out giving each team 85 timeouts was merely a starting point. Now, fans are routinely treated to four-minute delays to determine if the ball brushed a fingertip before going out of bounds. The NBA should be put on trial at The Hague for crimes against momentum.
But basketball’s review system is redeemed by that fact that it’s used to determine flagrant fouls. This provides us with replay after replay in which eyes are elbowed, noses are bonked or jewels are hoofed. Sometimes a flagrant 2 foul is super obvious, and you sense the refs are viewing footage over and over purely for entertainment. Who can blame them? We’d all totally watch a weekly half-hour show that featured flagrant fouls. I’ll even offer to host for free. Coming to Sportsnet this fall: Scott Feschuk’s Thursday Night Cavalcade of Wiener Punches!
1. Baseball Many of the reviews this season have focused on slides into second. As I understand it, the runner must now a) slide directly into the bag, b) maintain contact with the bag at all times and c) formally declare a common-law relationship with the bag on relevant tax forms. It’s all to prevent injuries, understand? In other news, baseball is still totally cool with 100-mph fastballs being heaved at the skulls of batters.
You know what’s worse? Managers still get to stall before deciding whether to challenge a play. Even the way the umps mosey over to the headsets is infuriating. NFL refs at least give us a courtesy jog. We get it, baseball—you’re soooo different and special. “Our game is eternal! We don’t have a clock! We let David Ortiz undress and re-dress between pitches!” That’s great, but some of us have dinner reservations and/or the desire not to miss an important stage in our children’s lives, like their first step or the entirety of puberty.