E.A. Sports Today

Instantly rebuffed

AHSAA adopts instant replay for 2018 football season, Calhoun County coaches think it’s a bad idea

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Following the example of college football and the National Football League, the AHSAA Central Board of Control on Thursday approved the use of instant replay review in regular-season football games in the 2018 season.

Instant replay is prohibited under National Federation of State High School Association rules, but Alabama received permission for its use up to three years. NFHS executive director Bob Gardner said in a news release the national body permits state associations to experiment “in certain situations” to determine the future viability of rules changes.

The AHSAA has been actively studying instant replay options for the last five years. It said participation in using it this year is optional.

Coaches in Calhoun County oppose the introduction of instant replay reviews either on general principle or economic reasons.

“I’m dead against instant replay in high school,” Ohatchee coach Scott Martin said. “I think it’s a logistical problem. The smaller the school, the worse it gets. You don’t have the resources, the manpower for replay.

“The big question is if something happens on the far sideline, how do you make that call? The point is we don’t need to be copying the colleges or the pros. We’ve already got enough problems getting officials for high school athletics and now you put them under more scrutiny; it’s unfair to them.”

The AHSAA is partnering with Pittsburgh-based DVSport, Inc., a firm that facilitates instant replay for most of the NCAA’s major conferences and its playoffs. The technology will give officials the ability to review video from multiple camera angles within seconds of the play.

“I don’t like slowing the game down,” Weaver’s Daryl Hamby said. “It’s going to slow the game down. I don’t want it, not me.”

The AHSAA said the replay process works under the assumption the call on the field is correct and a ruling may be reversed only if the video evidence convinces an official “beyond all doubt” the call was incorrect.

“Officials get it right 99 percent of the time on the things that can be replayed,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “(The) human element/mistakes are part of the game whether it’s players, coaches or officials. … I’m not really for it in high school.”

“I don’t think there’s a spot for it in high school,” White Plains coach Chris White said.

The Central Board also approved limiting high school basketball teams to 30 games in the regular season – including tournaments – and lifting the restriction on the number of tournaments a team can play. The 2017-18 rule allowed varsity teams to play 20 regular-season games and three regular-season tournaments, with two being played with no loss of school time. Junior high and middle schools will be allowed to play 24 total games.

The Board also voted to move the site of the South Regional basketball tournament to Montgomery, giving the capital city two regional sites – Alabama State’s Oliver-Dunn Acadome and Garrett Coliseum.

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