Monday 24th July 2017,
Dr Sport

Video Review System for AFL, Do We Really Need It?

The AFL continued into the season proper with the video review system that was trialled in the 2012 NAB cup series. Understandably, they have been keen to defend it during its “glitchy” first few rounds. I assume that sports betting participants would ideally like it to stay – as anything that assists in us getting a more true result for a game would be welcomed.

Outside of the sports betting ranks however – criticism has been scathing at times.

Viewing this video from the NAB cup, you can hear the disdain in commentator Jason Dunstall’s voice:

Is this criticism representative of the majority of AFL viewers?

While everyone except Adrian “The AFL is perfect” Anderson would admit that some of the instances that have been chosen for in game review have been interesting – some indeed were results that appear to be as clear as day and laughable that they went for review – but is the widespread criticism actually warranted? Or are critics just bucking against change and technology – like a pensioner with a Myki card?

Damien Hardwick is a vocal critic for one – essentially calling it worthless and requesting the AFL “just let the bloody goal umpires do their job”, questioning whether it has added any improvement to the game. Ross Lyon meanwhile, believes it adds to the suspense to the game. He commented on the suspense added by the final review in the ANZAC day clash.

As it currently stands, if the vision is inconclusive, the status quo (the umpires decision), is deferred to, and (hopefully) common sense prevails. This is adequate.

Where video review can be most effective, is in reviewing kicks at goal from within the goal square, that can often come through faster than the goal umpire has time to position him/herself in the best location. Reviews to investigate whether a quick kick through the goal may have shaved the goal post pads or not – this can usually be determined conclusively from the video review.

In addressing the anger towards the system – we can look to biology. The human brain does not appreciate being stimulated and held in suspense (in this case with a video review) only for an inconclusive decision to result – leading people to condemn the system. This is a necessary trade off however for the times where it is going to give a fair result that will accurately decide the outcome of a game.

Regardless of the storm surrounding it, the video review system is indeed here to stay. We are already too far down the road. As a matter of fact, things have already quietened down as sit here after round 6. For a system that is only a year old, it is working reasonably well – and much of the success of it really depends on the video that is available of the incidents. As video coverage and clarity improves, and the possibility of sensors and further technology becomes available (who knows?), this review system will no doubt improve along with it.

If this is the worst iteration of the video review system then so be it. Bring on the improvements. I believe a watershed moment for video review is not far away, and then full acceptance will be just around the corner.

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