While the idea of an 18 game season may have been officially scrapped, the upcoming NFL season will likely have games that feel like they take an eternity to complete. A new rule will go into effect for the 2011 season that will have every single scoring play (touchdown, field goal, extra point, or safety) reviewed by replay officials in the booth. If there is any slight possibility that the ruling could have been made in error, the head official will be buzzed and asked to review the play. Coaches will no longer be allowed to challenge rulings related to scoring plays, and thus will be allowed to use their challenges at other points during the game.
This new rule exacerbates one of my biggest qualms with professional sports today. I have never been a fan of instant replay in the NFL, MLB, NBA, or any sport for that matter. Instant replay removes one of the most integral and exciting aspects of sport: the human element. We have become so consumed with technology and precision these days that the human element is being systematically removed from the games that we love. What makes sports exciting and entertaining are the imperfect elements. If every umpire or referee made every right call all the time, why would we even watch the game? Human error is natural and it keeps engaged and on our toes. It gives us something to talk about. Something to gripe about. Something to keep us interested. In the constant quest to "get it right", the pace and flow of the game are completely discarded. Adding in these stoppages will mean more commercial breaks that drag out an NFL game to well over 3+ hours.
If we are going to have this type of instant replay, why even have referees on the field make any calls at all? Why not just have the replay operators in the booth make decisions on every play with the on field refs acting as enforcers? I know that I am in the minority on this one, but in my opinion, instant replay takes the most basic human element and intrigue out of sport, and has no place in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, or any professional competition for that matter.