Up until now, the AFL has prohibited broadcasters from blatantly questioning in-game decisions by the umpires, but the league seems open now to the possibility of making an umpire available to comment on decisions made during the game and explain decisions to audiences.
We would like to see something similar done with regard to competitive ice-skating, as it would be nice to see some tap dancing to go along with the twirling on the ice, but we digress.
In the United States, an official representing the league and the umpires is often available to the head commentators to explain umpire decisions, but that official often seems completely clueless, often claiming that video reviews will result in a decision being reversed, only to see the officiating crew on the field hold pat.
The AFL has a slightly different scheme in mind, although if it actually makes it into the game or not has yet to be determined.
The tentative plan is for an umpiring official to be available to the broadcasters at quarter breaks and after the game.
In a game such as Australian Rules, where grey areas exist with regard to the interpretation and enforcement of rules, the umpiring department seems open to the idea, but so long as there are winners and losers, there will always be some who wind up disgruntled and some who wind up gruntled.
The idea has yet to be fleshed out completely. Decisions still need to be made, such as if the official made available to the broadcasters would be one involve in the actual game, or another member of the umpiring department observing from the stadium or a remote location.
The AFL trialled the idea two years ago, with no conclusive conclusion reached regarding the viability of the plan.
Those in favour believe explanations could reduce the frustration of fans, such as former Fremantle player Matthew Pavlich, who told foxfooty, “It was always good to have decisions explained while on the field, because that would often dissipate some angst you had towards umpires,” Pavlich said. “If it comes in, this is an opportunity for the media and the general public to fully understand why a decision has been made.”
In the NFL, the outcome has been mixed, but what is not questioned is that the procedure has contributed to the already glacial pace of NFL games.