Double take

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

The fumble by CFL officials working the Stampeders game Friday night has brought the league a step closer to instituting video replays.

The sooner the better.

The CFL has been experimenting with the technology this season and director of officiating George Black admits it may be time to call on TV cameras to help officials "get it right."

"A lot of times we don't have the best angle to rule on a play and if TV can give us a better angle that will allow us to get a call right, we'd be crazy not to use it," said Black, who joined the CFL as an official in 1979.

"If it shows us indisputable evidence that we've made the wrong call, then we'll overturn it and go with the replay call.

"I do this without any prejudice whatsoever. Anything that will help us get the call right is the critical issue. This isn't a Saturday afternoon in the park game for fun, it's important stuff and people's jobs and livelihoods depend on it."

Black offered his insights in the wake of a botched call by Jake Ireland's crew on the final play of the game in Vancouver that cost the Stampeders a win over the Lions.

Replays show Calgary perfectly executing an onside open-field kick, with Sulecio Sanford apparently scoring the winning touchdown.

Although Black said Saturday he had yet to review videotape of the play and wasn't prepared to comment on the officials' work that night, surely he has seen the many video clips and still photos released to the media.

Black said experiments with replays have proven a reliable system could easily be implemented. The league has already performed test runs in two games using TSN and CBC feeds and the results provided a clear picture of what is possible.

"We did the technical tests using television feeds and they worked very, very well," Black explained.

"We were quite pleased and pleasantly surprised by them and we're in the process of perhaps doing one more. Then we would put together a set of recommendations that would go to the competition committee, who would then take some recommendations to the board of governors.

"Using the TV feeds, we would have our officiating supervisor (game observer) sitting in his booth upstairs with a monitor. We'd have the referee down at field level with a monitor and both of them would have headsets tied into a person in the TV production truck who would be able to run the replays at our request and perhaps get a different angle than what the officials saw."

Although the CFL has strengthened its position with new ownership, solid national sponsorship and the potential for expansion, officiating remains its ugliest wart.

That blemish grew a little larger Friday night when what should have been another classic CFL finish turned into just another classic fumble.

Controversial calls have been commonplace this season and the Stamps have been on both ends of the miscues.

Not surprisingly, it seems every week debatable calls leave teams across the country fuming.

Officiating remains the league's weakest link and widest credibility gap, with the chasm seemingly growing wider each year as Friday night's game again proved.

The NFL implemented video replay several years ago and although it can cause delays, it has helped that league to, as Black says, "get it right."

Obviously, there will be costs connected to implementing a new video review system but getting it right makes almost any investment worth every nickel.

The Stampeders and their fans would be onside with that call.


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