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The men’s basketball team should have defeated No. 3 University of Arizona on Jan. 3. In fact, they did. All that is visible on the Buffs’ results list, however, is an overtime loss to the Wildcats.
Sabatino Chen’s last-second shot in regulation, with the score tied at 80-80, clearly left his hand as time expired.
Indeed, the call on the court was, at first, a made basket. To negate the chance of “human error,” the referees decided an instant replay was necessary to determine whether the outcome they chose was correct.
A profile shot of the action, with the shot clock placed at the bottom of the screen to aid the audience in coming up with their own conclusion, shows 0.1 seconds and freeze. There it is: 2 or 3 inches of space clearly visible between Chen’s fingertips and the ball and 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock. Basket counts, the Buffs win.
Then something amazing happened. The ref crossed his arms and unsheathed them to indicate “no good.” After viewing replays that clearly verify the call on the court, the referees ruled the shot was taken after regulation game time was over. Overtime ensued, and the Buffs lost by 9.
A simple rule change can prevent mistakes like this: Governing entities of sports should be allowed to acknowledge errors and fix them post-play. This includes the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc.
This rule needs specific requirements. League management can implement changes if, and only if, no possible action could occur following the play in question to change the outcome. For example, had Chen’s shot gone in with .3 seconds left on the clock, and the refs still blown the call, the NCAA could not overturn it because there is still a very small chance that Arizona could shoot a quick 3-pointer to tie. Because time expired as Chen’s shot went through, there is a 0 percent chance Arizona could tie it back up.
Many sports followers will recall the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers in which the Seahawks won on a last-second Hail Mary touchdown that replay shows was clearly an interception. Even after watching the replay, the referees retained the call of touchdown. The league should just be allowed to overrule the referees and award the victory to Green Bay since no other possible play could ensue after.
Baseball followers will remember the travesty that occurred when Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game when the umpire called a batter safe at first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, after an induced ground ball. However, replay shows the runner to clearly be out and perfection should have been achieved. Major League Baseball should be allowed to say, because no other play could occur after, that the call was wrong. Instead, Galarraga will likely be forgotten, and his legacy will only be relegated to those who watched the game.
People will argue that implementing a new rule like this would take away from the sport and that human error is simply a part of the game. Incorporating replay in sports like basketball and baseball was a progressive move to eliminate mistakes, though. Why not take it a step further, so that in the rare instance a mistake is made, the correct outcome can still be reached?
It is not often that a game-deciding call goes incorrectly, but fans make every time memorable. Resentment toward the NFL’s replacement refs should be proof of that. If league managers are allowed to determine the fates of teams after a botched call, in the case where no further action could ensue if called correctly, then people will quickly grow accustomed to never worrying about an incorrect decision. We could all say what everyone knows happened: the Colorado Buffaloes defeated Arizona.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Edward Quartin at Edward.firstname.lastname@example.org.