Style and Culture Writer
Nothing can match the high of watching a big play in a college football game, especially one that decides the outcome.
The crowd goes wild. The players start dancing on the sidelines. The luxury suite denizens pop bottles of Dom.
But wait... The zebra is signaling to the press box! He's calling for a video review. Instant replay becomes an instantaneous nightmare.
All too often in these cases, replay officials make the wrong call, negating a game-changing play. I ask you, what is the point of instant replay if you are not going to get it right?
But to understand how to fix instant replay, we first must understand its essence. Basically, instant replay is a time machine that allows humans to bend time and alter the past. Like Darth Vader, the officials become "more machine than man" as they defy our incomplete conception of time. (Think about what I just said... This is totally insane!)
There are two major theories about the nature of time that should be studied to better inform any attempt to reform the video review process.
This theory recognizes that it's impossible to go back in time and actually change a play itself. It would be ridiculous to try that. Everybody knows that the space-time continuum is consistent with the laws of physics, so
you can't go back in time unless history already showed that you had gone back. Additionally, nothing could be changed that would conflict with the history of how you got to the current play in question in the present moment of what would now constitute "bent space-time."
Remember the controversial 2006 Oklahoma-Oregon game? Under the constant histories view, the replay official should have traveled back in time at the end of the game and witnessed the following:
1.) Replay official Gordon Reese: (a) misses the fact that an Oregon player clearly touches the ball before it travels 10 yards; (b) misses the fact that an OU player recovered the ball; and (c) incorrectly determines that an OU player [a ghost, perhaps?] touched the ball first.
2.) On the ensuing Oregon drive, Reese misses the fact that a thrown ball is clearly tipped at the line of scrimmage and calls pass interference on OU safety Reggie Smith. Oregon scores on the next play.
If Reese would have applied the constant histories approach during his review of the plays, he would have clearly seen that the laws of physics and time do not allow any manipulation of past events. Science clearly proves that under this approach he would have noticed that the two plays in question were inconsistent with historical documentation.
Under this approach to historical interpretation, the replay official would have to review the play--i.e., travel through time--and enter an alternative history that differs from recorded history. (This is more of a free-will approach popular among officials that like to gamble on games.) Think Marty McFly going back in time to change his parent's courtship to achieve a more satisfactory history. Even under this approach, OU recovers the onside kick, thus not changing the course of history.
All in all, very poor officiating by Gordon Reese.
Some would argue that instant replay is irrelevant, because time is merely an essence and therefore does not technically exist beyond the humanoid fourth-dimensional level of our infinite universe. This circular model purports that events cannot be changed through time travel, as time is pre-destined and determinative in nature.
Under this theory of instant replay (and time travel) the infamous fifth-down play in the 1990 Colorado-Missouri game would not have been affected by instant replay, which would involve traveling back in time to change the call.
This monumental blunder allowed Colorado to finish the year with one loss and a share of the national championship. Proponents of instant replay argue that if it was available, the fifth down would have never taken place, thus allowing Missouri to win the game.
Think Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. The central story of the movie is that B&T have to get Beethoven, Napoleon, Dr. Sigmund Freud, Genghis Khan, Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Socrates, and Billy the Kid to Sandimas High School to give their history report. Problems begin when Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted Theodore Logan can't remember where they put Ted's car keys. The boys ends up at the station only to find the car keys are already there.
WHHHAAAAAT????!!! This is clearly impossible!! How could the keys already be there???
The answer is simple, actually. Time can be viewed as a circular construct in which all moments are happening in the present, have happened in the past, and will continue to happen in the future. So no matter what you do, you cannot affect the outcome of something, because it is predestined to happen.
Ted's keys are always going to be on Captain Logan's desk at that point in time, and you cannot go back and change an event that already has taken place. No matter what Missouri wanted to say about the play, under this theory, the outcome would have been the same. The replay was irrelevant, therefore, because this particular moment is time has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.
Time is not a flat line with a start and a stop. (A-----------------------------B) It is a circle with no beginning or end.