Head to Head: Instant replay therapy session and possible Class E regrets

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Randy: We interrupt our weekly discussion of local high school football to take on an issue of much greater importance, an issue that hasn’t surfaced in Maine, yet, but must be addressed before it spreads here and ruins the sport we love so much. It is an idea, according to some, whose time has come. I say we need to kill it in the crib.

Instant replay.

I despise instant replay. I loathe it. It has changed all sports for the worse. It ruins the flow of games and needlessly lengthens them. It distorts the meaning of once simple words such as “catch.” It sometimes ignores the laws of physics. It brings with it rules that are impossible to interpret and demands that we place value in meaningless minutiae.

Worst of all, it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do — make the games fair. It makes officials in all sports worse, and even when they get the call right, it sometimes reverses the call just because of the aforementioned distortions and minutiae. 

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I admit that I supported it when it cast its spell of fraudulent justice on the National Football League and college football, but I want it dead and I want it dead now, before the disease spreads to high school football.

Never gonna happen, you say? Uh, it’s closer than you think. New Jersey is exploring becoming the first state in the country to allow game officials to use video technology to review calls in high school football.

The games needn’t even be televised. Only schools who use HUDL, a wireless program that schools throughout Maine use mainly for evaluation and scouting purposes, would be eligible.

New Jersey would need the National Federation of High School Assocation’s approval to implement what is initially planned to be a “pilot” program, with a few schools volunteering to participate.

Leave it to New Jersey to start this garbage. It needs to be stopped before it spreads north.

Lee: Way to tell all the instant replay kids to get off your lawn.

I don’t have the qualms you do with instant replay. But I see many problems with the idea of instant replay in high school football. Here are a few:

First, the games would take forever. Officials are essential parts of high school sports. They are under-appreciated. But we can’t expect them to be as good as college and professional referees, and I don’t it’s fair to expect them to be as adept or as confident in their calls, and therefore they’d turn to instant replay often.

Second, fans would expect the officials to go to instant replay on every single play. And when they don’t, those fans would lose their minds. Schools would need to hire security so the referees could make it to their cars alive.

The third reason is that would cost a lot of money.

I’ll stop there.

Anything else you want to get off your chest? I’m here for you.

Randy: Who are you, Dr. Phil? All right, I am starting to feel a little unburdened. One other thing that’s grinding my gears is Traip Academy forfeiting the rest of its season due to player safety (really, a lack of players).

I salute Traip for trying to keep its football program alive and giving Class E a go this year. And I guess we should have expected this, if not from Traip then someone else in Class E. These are, after all, football programs trying to get off life support. But Traip did no one else in Class E any favors by signing up then pulling the plug nearly halfway through the year. 

I feel bad for the Traip kids, but I feel worse for the kids at Maranacook who saw a quarter of their season vanish into thin air overnight because they had two games scheduled with Traip. Telstar and Camden Hills got a raw deal, too. It’s tough enough to build a sustainable program as it is. Losing a chunk of your schedule makes it that much more difficult.

It’s time to explore other options, such as eight-man football, because Class E is quickly developing into a one-step-forward, two-steps-back situation.

Lee: I’m sure Traip thought it could have enough kids to compete in the new Class E. I’m not mad at them. I instead view it as a five-steps-forward, one-step-back situation. The other five teams are still playing varsity football when they otherwise wouldn’t have. And they had to expect that, or at least wonder, if some of the teams wouldn’t make it through the entire season. These are, remember, six unstable football programs.

Having covered several eight-man football games, I could spend hours discussing its merits. The problem might be that the schools who play it will get hooked and not want to move back to 11-man football.

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