Video not quite on demand

Monday night at the game between USI and Bellarmine in Louisville, Ky., the officials twice had to look at video to make a call. Both times involved Screaming Eagles shots as time ran out. The first was a shot by Lawrence Thomas Gavin Schumann as time ran out on the shot clock in the first half with around three minutes left in the second half and would have given USI a 57-54 lead, a shot that appeared to hit the rim (the requirement for a shot to be official and beat the shot clock) and was rebounded and put in by teammate Aaron Nelson. The second involved a Lawrence Thomas shot, although the refs were trying to determine if Schumann had tipped the ball into the basket in time to beat the final buzzer in overtime and give USI the victory.

Since this is a Division II regular-season game, there is (most of the time) no live television. However, there is live Internet streaming, and that’s what the officials had to look at to make their final calls. So there we had two officials leaning over the scorer’s table along the sideline, trying to make out what had happened on a tiny laptop computer screen. Keep in mind that streaming video, despite all the advances that have been made involving the Internet, is still pretty primitive. The images often freeze and often are blurry and indistinct. I’m not sure if those problems cropped up Monday night, but somebody did have to figure out how to replay the play so the refs could look at what happened. Still, it wasn’t terribly professional looking. Then again, at least there was something to look at.

USI lost the first review. Just before the official ruled against his team, USI coach Rodney Watson turned to his assistants and said, “Twenty dollars says the call goes against us.” I’m not sure if he collected on that bet, but there it is. On the second call, the refs didn’t spend as much time looking at the video before ruling that the tip-in had occurred before time ran out.

Video equipment is pretty cheap nowadays, relatively speaking. But I would think that somehow online video could be improved so that it looks as vivid and as distinct as anything you see on your monster screen HD TV. Why can’t that be done?

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