One Way to Expand Instant Replay

» May 28, 2009 4:25 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

Ira Winderman at explains:

Before every NBA playoff game, four of the league’s higher-ranked referees enter the officials’ locker room.

Three emerge.

The other one is left behind in case of injury, presumably to feast on nachos and prepare a hanky to mop Joey Crawford’s brow at halftime.

The concept makes sense. The game is difficult enough to officiate with three referees, let alone to work shorthanded when an injury reduces the workload to a two-man game.

Yet lately, it sure seems like an extra set of eyes, a fourth pair, might just help.

So put the nachos down, let Joey mop his own brow, and get down to the business that most NBA fans are involved in on a nightly basis these days — watch the games on TV.

Sometimes the best view of a game is the one that comes courtesy of countless camera angles.

So if there is a fourth referee in the building, one that rated high enough during the regular season to earn the trip and per diem, why not put him to work? Why not station him in the TV truck, where he can see all the angles that a mere six eyes on the court might miss? Why not provide an instant line of communication to the scorers’ table?

The argument in such cases is that there already are enough stoppages, enough whistles, games that threaten midnight in the East almost on a nightly basis.

Yet which would take longer, those incessant referee huddles at midcourt to sort matters, or a top-tier NBA official sitting in a state-of-the-art TNT or ESPN truck shouting, like the game director, “Camera 1! No, give me Camera 2 and slow it down! Do you have anything from the baseline?”

Boom. Boom. Boom. And, potentially, far more accuracy than three referees trying to recreate what they just saw or thought they saw.

It’s worth reading the entire column. There’s plenty more. I like Winderman’s idea of sequestering a fourth official away from the action. There’s always going to be a certain amount of controversy regarding the officiating because the game moves so fast and many of the rules are open to interpretation, but giving the fourth official multiple camera angles and the authority to review technicals, flagrants, and last-second shots would decrease the margin of error.

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