Video review in H.S. football? Coaches, referees weigh in


ABILENE, Texas - Video replay review in high school football may seem like a stretch of an idea that could only be done well into the future, but then again maybe it's not.

With the state championship games taking place at AT&T Stadium in Arlingtonand all 12 games being aired on television, the technology is available. 

Darrin Cox says video review is probably not as far-fetched as it sounds. 

"I've been in some state meetings talking about instant replay and the possibilities," said Cox, who is a high school football referee and is the head of the Abilene chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials. 

The state's governing body, the University Interscholastic League, has been researching video review for several years.

This past summer UIL Athletic Director Susan Elza said it could become a reality at some point.

"We're in a day and time where technology is in place, and do we need to have this video capture of certain plays like they have in NCAA?" said Elza. "We're going to continue to talk about that topic and consider maybe adding that to a [Class] 6A game at some point in the future." 

Some coaches, like Jim Ned's Jerod Womack are excited for a tool that could benefit coaches, officials and players.

"I thin it is a conversation. I think there's a lop of loopholes to work around before it becomes something that is in place," said Womack.

The biggest loophole is money. How would the vast majority of school districts come up with the funds for needed video and communication equipment? And who would operate it during a game?

"Even the officials. The chapters are having a hard time year in and year out getting officials. Now you're talking about adding staff to those groups," said Womack.

Another factor is the time spent reviewing calls. 

"Everything slows down," said Cox. 'You can get up and go get another glass of tea and they're still reviewing. It takes the sport out of it, I think."

The Alabama High school Athletic Association experimented with replay review during a couple of spring football games using iPads with Hudl, a video-sharing website and software specifically designed for teams to use when reviewing plays and games.

Other states allow officials to use video review during basketball and hockey championship games, while officials at the Texas high school state basketball tournament can review a final buzzer-beating shot, however Cox said that has not been done yet.

Professional and most college stadiums in Texas are already equipped to handle replay review, however Cox wants high school officials monitoring the games.

"The rules are the same, but the philosophies are different. And philosophies are how you imply the rules," said Cox.

A first step by the UIL could be to introduce replay review at the state championship games where a myriad of cameras are already set up with stadium staff that is accustomed to using the equipment.

But, that doesn't satisfy a lot of people.

"If they just did it at the state game I'd definitely not be in favor of that," Abilene High head coach Del Van Cox said. "It changes the game a little bit. It changes in what you think, how you think."

Del Van Cox also believes the human element is a part of high school football, and missed calls, real or perceived, are helpful to the overall mission of the sport.

"It's just a good life learning lesson. Not everything is going to go your way, but you've got to handle those things. That's what life is all about, how you handle those things," said Del Van Cox.

"If we're going to do it we need to do it the way it's really designed to do, and that's to make the correct call no matter what it takes," said Darrin Cox.


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