While the divide between those who support instant replay in sports, and those who don’t, remains, I’m of the mind that if you have the technology, there’s nothing wrong with using to make sure you get the call right. Yes, it runs the risk of slowing down the game, but why should a shot be allowed if it happened after the buzzer went off? Or why should a touchdown count if the goal line wasn’t crossed? Even with baseball’s technological struggles, allowing a home run that went wide of the foul pole does not improve the quality of your product.
With that in mind, the NBA is expanding, well, refining how instant replay will be used during the upcoming games.
• During the last two minutes of regulation and the entire duration of any overtime period, to determine whether the ball touched the rim and thus whether the shot clock should be adjusted.
• During the last two minutes of regulation play and the entire duration of any overtime period, to determine which of two players on opposing teams caused the ball to become out-of-bounds. This modification expanded the previous rule to include the entirety of an overtime period instead of just the last two minutes of an overtime period.
• During a replay review of an out-of-bounds call, to determine when the ball is out of bounds for purposes of adjusting the game clock and shot clock.
• At any point during the game, to determine which player should attempt free throws after a foul occurred.
• At any point during a game, to determine whether a foul that was called a clear-path-to-the-basket foul met all the criteria of a clear-path-to-the basket foul.
While these changes look largely cosmetic, or refining, if you will, the two that stand out are the last two. Using replay to determine if a player was fouled in the act of shooting seems excessive. If, with the naked eye, NBA referees can’t determine if the player was shooting or not, the ball should simply be inbounded by the team that got fouled. Delaying the game to check for something that should’ve been seen when it happened doesn’t sound like great use of the available technology.
As for the clear path review, I thought the rules were pretty clear on this, but let’s review:
If a fast break starts in a team’s backcourt and a defender fouls any offensive player when the team is going to score an easy basket, a clear path foul has occurred. When the foul happens, no defender can be ahead of the ball where he could defend against the easy basket.
Is that hard to tell whether or not a defender was in front of the player being fouled on a fast break? Clearly, it is.
The new replay additions go into effect when the 2010/11 season starts.