Friday, June 26, 2009

Making The Right Call

Video Review of Challenged Calls Moves to "High Tech, High Def" Centre at League Headquarters

TORONTO - The Canadian Football League's system for video review of on-field officials' calls challenged by coaches is moving to a high-tech, high-definition Command Centre here at CFL headquarters."Our fans love our game because of its quick pace and consistent quality, so we're taking this step to speed up our replay system, and increase the consistency of our decision making," said CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon. The new process - with a replay official in Toronto making the final call based on video review instead of an on-field referee -- will be in place for the league's regular season opening games on Canada Day, July 1st.

"By utilizing the latest technology in a central location, presided over by a dedicated replay official, we intend to make a good system that much better," said Tom Higgins, the league's Director of Officiating.It's designed to be quicker because a dedicated replay official at the Command Centre can immediately start reviewing a play from various angles, instead of fans and teams having to wait for the on-field referee to reach a video booth on the sideline, Higgins said.And the calls should be more consistent because the replay official can rely on the very best high-definition monitors. In the past, the quality of the standard definition pictures reviewed by on-field referees could vary from stadium to stadium, he said.

The league announced today the lead replay official manning the Command Centre will be Jake Ireland, who retired as an on-field official following last year's Grey Cup after a distinguished career that spanned 30 years and 557 games, including 15 Grey Cups."We're very pleased that Jake has agreed to take on this new role, because of the experience, integrity and dedication we know he will bring to the task," Higgins said.It's important to note that Ireland will see the same TSN replays fans can watch from home, but he will also have access to computer technology that allows him to slow down and isolate images to ensure the right call is made.

Developed by DVSport, the technology is already being used effectively by other high-profile sports including NCAA football. Under CFL rules, head coaches are allowed to challenge two calls made by on-field officials during each game. Starting this year, a third challenge will be granted if the first two are successful. Coaches can only challenge a prescribed list of calls, including catch/no catch, down-by-contact, and whether the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. In fact, 85 per cent of challenges last year fell into one of those three categories.The 2008 CFL regular season and playoffs included 105 challenges. In 66 instances, the on-field official's call was upheld, in 34 it was overturned, and in 5 the video evidence was deemed inconclusive."Our new Command Centre is a modern tool designed to augment the excellent job done by our officials, who are absolutely dedicated to doing everything possible to get each call right," Cohon said."It's just one of the ways we're moving our league forward, on behalf of our fans, and in the best interests of our game."

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