“Whatever it takes to get the call right”. That’s usually the initial sentiment about video replay and its involvement in sports. Throughout the course of the past two decades, we’ve seen action on the field or court slowed down frame by frame with the intention of improving the accuracy of officiating with a little help from technology. The NCAA Softball Rules Committee recommended last month that college softball implement a video replay system, and it’s a notion that appears to be gaining traction.
Like with most things in life, usually change is brought about when a compelling event takes place to make everyone challenge the status quo. For college softball, that singular moment may have occurred earlier this summer in the Women’s College World Series. The University of Oklahoma squared off against Florida State University, and there were a few calls that went against the Sooners in the first two games of the series that appeared questionable. An obstruction call, a safe/out determination at second base, and a play involving a runner moving out of the baseline headed towards first base all received a lot of attention.
Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso was extremely vocal throughout the course of the series, wondering out loud why the NCAA wouldn’t use the technology they had to get calls correct.
“If it takes a little extra time, our sport is that good that people aren’t going to leave. And if they leave, personally, I would say I would rather a fan leave viewership and us get the call right,” Gasso expressed. Via Si.com
There’s a chance that we’ll know pretty soon whether or not the NCAA will implement video review for college softball, since the rules oversight panel is set to discuss softball regulations specifically on August 12th.
The system recommended by the rules committee is not unlike some of the replay setups we see in other sports on the professional and collegiate level. Under this version of the proposal, head coaches would have two opportunities to challenge calls during the game. Additionally, umpires can also bring bang-bang calls to the monitor starting in the 6thinning. There are many types of plays that can be looked at under this recommendation, including, but not limited to; fair or foul, ground rule doubles or home runs, and deciding whether a batter was struck by a pitch.
If this proposal is passed, it will inevitably slow down the game for a sport that is generally trying to speed things up. However, the integrity of the game should come before the pace of play on the pecking order, and if approved, replay would be a positive development for softball.