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Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014

Replay comes to Hoosier Hysteria

Posted Friday, November 20, 2009, at 1:36 PM

Well technology has finally wormed it's way into the high school sports scene. And when I say technology I mean the use of instant replay, on a limited basis, in high school basketball.

Before I dive into the heart of the subject, let me preface this by giving you a little background for those of you unfamiliar with the governing bodies of high school athletics.

There are two such bodies in control of what rules are written when it comes to prep sports. First there is the state governing body. In our case, it's the Indiana High School Athletic Association.

You know who the IHSAA is, they're the people in Indianapolis that took away one-class basketball and gave us such things as four state basketball champions.

While I'll reserve comment on that for another time, I will say that as a group they do try to do what is best for themselves, their member schools and the athletes who partake in the sports we all love.

Perched above the IHSAA is the national governing body of high school sports known as the National Federation of High School Sports or the NFHSA.

When I was an active official, the NFHSA wrote the rule books and case books used by officials. They also recommend the type of safety equipment in various sports and try to be the common bond between all states that participate in high school athletics.

In what the NFHSA calls a response to end-of-game situations in three state championships during the 2007-08 season, their basketball rules committee decided to allow states to use instant replay.

IHSAA Director of Communications Jason Wille told me the IHSAA also decided it was a good idea.

"It wasn't mandatory that all members use it, but it's a good idea," Wille told me. "We may as well use it. We want to make the correct decision and this seemed like a good way to do it."

Don't get your hopes up, it won't mean that every school will now have a replay screen installed and have television cameras on hand to help decide if shots such as Luke Zellers' halfcourt miracle against Plymouth in overtime during the 2005 championship game were good or not.

It simply means that during the state championship games in Indianapolis, the officials will have another tool at their disposal -- a very limited use tool.

Wille told me of the restrictions and they seem to make sense even to me, a person who thinks instant replay in high school is just plain silly.

First, replays can only be used during the state finals and no other round of the tournament or during the regular season.

Second, replays can only be used at the end of the fourth quarter or any subsequent overtime periods.

Third, replays can only be used to determine if a shot was good or no good, and if it was a two- or 3-pointer.

And lastly, it can only be used if the result of that decision will determine the final outcome of the game.

Mary Struckhoff, NFHSA assistant director and liaison to the Basketball Rules Committee offered this explanation for the allowing of replay review by officials.

"Coaches, participants, spectators and media now hold officials to a higher, almost impossible standard," Struckhoff said in a May press release. "When available, technology should be used to assist game officials and administrators in making the correct call when the outcome of the game hangs in the balance and a team has no further opportunity to overcome a critical error. This change provides state associations that opportunity."

While I am certainly in support and fully in favor of this change to the rules, I hope it's the last such allowance of instant replay in high school.

For some sports fans instant replay has become a means to overrule every call made by an official they disagree with and lends credence to their belief that officials are typically unable to make every call correctly.

That group of fans fail to see that replays at the college and professional level are merely tools in a toolbox that is filled with split-second decisions and mind-numbing justifications that less than a quarter century ago were made entirely without recourse.

Now that we have the technology in place at the higher levels, let us not let it become a necessity at the most basic and rudimentary level of all sports -- high school.

After all, isn't that where players are supposed to learn how to do things correctly? Isn't that the level where the game is supposed to be at its purest form?

While I hope and believe the new rule will be little more than a helpful blip on the big picture, let's just hope that replay screens and television cameras don't suddenly begin appearing in gyms across the state.

I personally think that would be a sad statement to not only the players, fans and officials, but to the sport itself.

Rick Curl is a sports writer at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext 20 or at rcurl@gcdailyworld.com.



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