A Waiting Game

Yes, it’s early stages, but it seems VAR is having the effect of delaying play and frustrating fans, managers, players and pundits. As the decisions made with VAR were correct ones (in the end) the general tenor after the game appears to have been one of hopeful (naive?) optimism: “It does need some tweaking,” said Danny Murphy; “It’s going to take a while for them to get it right,” said Dion Dublin.

My question is: where’s more time or tweaking going to get you? You can refine as much as you want; you can talk to the rugby associations; you can maybe show the decisions on-screen in the ground; but it does not change the fact (and please point out if I’m missing something here and this is not the case) that stopping the game takes time.

For good or for bad VAR is here to stay (and the Pacey Winger, in response to this Guardian piece, highlights one very good reason why this will be: money), so really the only considerations are how long it takes for those involved in the game – the fans at the ground and at home, the players, the playing staff, managers etc. – to get used to the delay; and can this delay be merged into the game, but so as not to leave it a poorer experience, accepted only because it contains “correct” decisions; but to leave it, and the many elements that make a game exciting, relatively unscathed, and even, hope against hope, better? I’m cynical but, taking my cues from Dublin and Murphy, trying to be optimistic.


Reading: How To Think: A Guide For The Perplexed, Alan Jacobs


Cricket review system / VAR

People who think technology [the cricket review system] is going to lead to a mistake free world are very wide of the mark. What are you going to get is a different argument about a more highly refined type of mistake. And it’s going to come down to scrutiny of inches and millimeters of a television screen, rather than a judgment made out in the middle. So, all we are getting is a displacement activity where contentious decisions are being moved from the field off the field. You are never going to get to a mistakes free world or a controversy free world – Ed Smith (55m 29s into programme)

Personally, I think it’s a good thing that we can never completely eradicate out those contentious decisions. I think sport needs them. But Smith’s point is worth thinking about after the first competitive club match in England using VAR (Video Assistant Referee) technology was played last night (Brighton v Palace).

In cricket the scrutiny of those inches and millimeters on a tv screen takes time, but the game and crowd have managed to accommodate this and so the delay contributes a certain tension to the game. Whether similarly, in football, those off-pitch decisions that take time and slow the pace of the game down (I can’t see how they won’t) add to the overall excitement of the match or detract from it remains to be seen.