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Rodney Atkins

AHSAA to implement instant replay beginning in 2018 football season


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Sports fans have grown accustomed to instant replay in most sporting events ranging from professional to collegiate sports, but now instant replay will be available on the high school level in the state of Alabama.

Last week, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) received permission from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to provide instant replay for member schools for up to three years beginning with the upcoming 2018 football season.

The AHSAA is partnering with DVSport, Inc., a Pittsburgh based Software Company, which has provided Instant Replay Solutions in NCAA college football since 2005. The AHSAA Central Board of Control approved the partnership and project at its quarterly board meeting on Thursday, April 12.

Participation in using the new technology will be optional for AHSAA member schools.

DVSport Instant Replay Solutions is used by almost all major college football conferences including the Southeastern Conference. The Company also provides instant replay for the College Football Playoffs, FCS, D-II, D-III playoffs and NAIA championship game.

AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said, “We are grateful to the NFHS for approving our request. This gives our officials the opportunity to use the same technology coaches have been equipped with on their sidelines to get the call right.”

“While this replay process is in the initial stages of development, the AHSAA is committed to working with DVSport and the NFHS to develop a cost effective process to assist both our coaches and officials In addition, all football state championship games will use the same replay fan experience DVSport provides for SEC contests.”

NFHS Executive Director Bob Gardner said the NFHS permits state associations to experiment in certain situations to determine the future viability of rules changes.  “As technology improvements evolve, the use of instant replay is an area of interest for the NFHS Football Rules Committee,” he said. “We welcome the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s experiment in use of replay in the 2018 season.  We hope to learn the advantages as well as any problems associated with replay from the use in Alabama.”

The AHSAA, which has been actively studying instant replay options for the last five years, along with DVSport Instant Replay Solutions, will collect and study the data over the next year with a possibility of three years of experimentation.

“Alabama is at the forefront of using cutting-edge-technology in the high school athletics setting and with its deep football roots, it is a perfect place for this partnership to begin.” stated DVSport CEO Brian Lowe.

So how will replay work in the high school game? According to the AHSAA, protocol will be very similar to college and professional football. DVSport Replay technology gives officials the ability to review video from multiple camera angles within seconds of the play happening. Once a coach challenges a play, the on-field referee will be able to review a play on a system located on the sideline.

The AHSAA’s protocol will be as follows:

  • Instant replay is a process whereby video review is used to let stand or reverse certain on-field decisions made by game officials.
  • The instant replay process operates under the assumption that the official’s ruling on the field is correct. The replay official may reverse a ruling only if the video evidence convinces him or her beyond all doubt that the ruling on the field was incorrect. Without indisputable video evidence that the ruling on the field was incorrect, the ruling will stand as called.

With schools having the option to use the technology, it will be completely up to the school to fund the innovation, leaving schools and athletic departments with a decision on how and where it is best to spend the money in its budget.

“This is trickling down from college and professional football,” said Matt Griffith. Griffith is the head football coach and director of athletics at Sylacauga High School. “I think schools will have to spend a lot of money for something that may not be used at all during a game or maybe one call.”

To Griffith, there are too many blurred lines regarding instant replay including the specifics of how it will work with the referees on the field for his athletic department to spend the money on a product that is simply being tested during this three year window from 2018-2020.

“I don’t think we’ll have instant replay at Sylacauga in 2018,” Griffith explained. He said his department is moving towards other technology his coaches and players can use to allow for more instant impact during the course of a game. He mentioned the product Hudl Sideline which allows film to be sent directly to the sideline in a game, enabling coaches and players to make instant adjustments at any time during a game.

Griffith did tell he sees instant replay as imminent in the game, but when weighing the options of replay technology and other technology his department is eyeing, it does not make sense to have it during the 2018 season. He went on to say he will continue to look into instant replay and he is always looking for ways to make the game better.

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