Question of the Day: Why Do Certain Olympic Sports Resist Instant Replay?

This Olympics has seen a number of clearly bad calls by referees or judges. Some sports like gymnastics allows judges to review videotapes in resolving a challenge such as was the case where the American team successfully challenged the awarding of the bronze medal to the Russian female gymnast on the balance beam. (I loved watching U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, her husband, Bela, shouting demands for a challenge from the stands to ensure a review in favor of U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman. I have previously admitted to watching solely for the legal challenges). I was struck, therefore, to learn that they do not use instant replay in volleyball — one of my favorite sports to watch at the Olympics. This arose when the Chinese judge made an erroneous call in favor of the American men’s team against the Italians. The Italians were understandably upset since the instant replay clearly showed the American ball falling outside the line (though I was disappointed, as an Italian, to hear that the team is infamous for badmouthing referees). Yet, despite the instant and clear evidence of a bad call, the decision stood.

I do not blame the Chinese judge for his call. It was very close but the camera had a better angle. While the Italians prevailed in the contest, what if they had lost due to such a call? These athletes sacrifice considerably to get to the Olympics. It seems grossly unfair to end their shot at a medal or burden their chances with an unfair call when it is quick and easy to check. I understand that you do not want endless challenges but other sports have this ability and do not get bogged down in challenges.

Constant controversies in the World Cup shows the lunacy of International Football (Soccer) rules in barring instant replay.

The rigidity of Olympic rules is often a triumph of form over substance with the loss of fairness. This was evident in the fencing competition of Britta Heidemann of Germany and Shin A Lam of South Korea. As we discussed earlier, Lam led with one second left on the clock. Lam was heading to the gold medal match but the the clock was not started after the referee signaled to restart. That gave Heidemann more than one second to land the winning touch. It was unbelievable that the touch occurred in the one second time but the judge refused to reverse his call.

The Olympic rules for many of these sports need a serious review to better guarantee fairness and accuracy for these athletes. One immediate change should be the inclusion of instant replay in all sports, in my view. I am willing to deal with a slight delay to be fair to athletes who have worked for four years to get to these games.

Another change is to get rid of the truly moronic rule requiring cash to file a challenge in some sports like fencing and gymnastics. When the Japanese challenged another call in gymnastics, you could see the judge holding the $300 cash in processing the challenge — a rather demeaning and inelegant addition to the games.

What do you think?

28 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Why Do Certain Olympic Sports Resist Instant Replay?”

  1. Dredd, you are obviously correct. If there’s one thing most refs HATE it’s when they either miss a call and the entire stadium ‘alerts’ them, or when they make a bad call and everyone knows it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ref give out a ‘Oops…my bad’. Now. I have a question about the Olympics in general. I was under the impression that the Olympics were for amateur competition. So why is the US Basketball team made up of basketball all-stars? Hardly an amateur when you’re being paid millions every season to play the game!

  2. Quite frankly they don’t need officials in most sports. They could put an rfid in whatever they want and know for certain where any particular bit of matter is at all times.

    They leave the officials so they can fix the sport for the book makers.

  3. sounds like the italians tried to bribe the chinese judge with a bottle of hitler wine.

  4. rcampbell, I saw the zion before I saw the 2012. It’s possible that I read something about it before seeing the logo, so would have a preconceived idea of how to interpret the logo I have no idea if it’s deliberate or not.

  5. “….but you’d have to close at least one eye, stand on your head while simultaeously filling your brain with hate to discern “ZION” from the logo.”~ rcampbell

    hahaha!”” well said….

  6. Spells ZION???

    I don’t see it. I think it looks like a woman’s breast. It doesn’t really look like a woman’s breast (that was the line used by Steve Buscemi’s character in Armageddon while looking at a series of ink blots during a very funny psychological exam), but you’d have to close at least one eye, stand on your head while simultaeously filling your brain with hate to discern “ZION” from the logo.

  7. OT, but not really

    Ie, speaking of bad mouthing.

    I saw in 1980 the doubles in the Davis Cup match in Mexico City. Mack the Knife was up to his old tricks, but did not have a Coke cup with ice at hand.

    His partner played the stooge as usual.

    Results. Near riot on the stands after the last ball. Fortunately all they threw at the pair were soft cushions.

    I escaped without even a scare. Those were those pre-9/11 days.

  8. What Dredd Said.

    I would also conjecture there might be some hubris on the part of some judges where their ego dictates that they are infallable and to use instant replay, which nearly anyone can be the judge, detracts from their lofty self perception.

  9. Organized sports are, by their nature, conservative. Change only comes w/ kicking and screaming. Female sports reporters access to men’s locker rooms is one example. Replay in baseball. Tonight in the Packers v Chargers exhibition game the first female ref. Sports authorities only change when public pressure is exerted. And still then they sometimes dig in their heals.

  10. How, it occurs to me to wonder, can there be any form which came not from substance, as substance is formed?

    Which came first? Substance of absence of substance? In the absence of substance what is there to form or to be formed?

  11. “….a triumph of form over substance with the loss of fairness.”
    in all fairness, substance is the result of form. The Olympians have become greater than the rule! Times changed, the rules (or at the least the enforcement of) didn’t…so they are G*ds now with no Olympus….unless, oh yeah….catch up with the program you old farts !

  12. Would instant replay open untenable opportunities for vitiating the essential judgment doctrine of stare decisis?

    Is any greater endangerment to the entrenched and ineluctable dogma of adversarial methodology possible than accuracy of observation?

    Why did recalling the Innocence Project dance into my consciousness a few moments ago?

  13. That’s why baseball is baseball….. Dredd, you might be right….

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