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The Worst Trend in Football Broadcasting Must Be Stopped

Seriously, broadcasters. We know how reviews work. Please stop explaining them every goddamn time.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

I don’t think I can handle it anymore. I really don’t. I’ve always had patience with stuff that drove me crazy about football, whether it was the concept of “unnecessary roughness” (THE ENTIRE SPORT IS UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS, YOU IMBECILES) or football people talking football talk with other football people and using “football” as a football adjective as much as football possible. But this? This is too much. A new football season is just beginning and already I’m begging for more Deflategate talk if it means I never have to hear this for the rest of my life:

“Now the thing to remember here is that the call on the field is important, because they need to have indisputable video evidence to overturn it.”

YEAH, NO SHIT. WE KNOW HOW REVIEWS WORK, THANKS.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

I don’t know why football broadcasters seem to have such an obsession with explaining replay rules, but it’s become an industry-wide phenomenon and it absolutely has to stop. The NFL has had its challenge system in place since 1999! That’s right — this will be the 18th season of video reviews in football. If the video-review system was a person, it would be old enough to vote, join the military, and watch a porno. It could adopt a child in six states and go on The Price is Right. It could buy its own house, put a bunch of TVs on a wall, set all of those TVs to different football games, and beat itself over the head when it inevitably gets bombarded with explanations of how the replay system works. SO WHY IN GOD’S NAME IS THIS STILL BEING EXPLAINED TO US?

What’s most infuriating is that replays are the only things broadcasters explain like this. You’d never see a defensive tackle jump offside and hear a guy calling the game say, “Now, the thing to keep in mind here is that the defenders have to be behind the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.” Commentators don’t slobber all over themselves at the opportunity to break down holding or an illegal shift. Outside of occasionally launching into the “I’m not sure he touched him but I think they called pass interference because the defensive back didn’t turn his head as the ball approached” spiel, there isn’t a single rule in football that regularly makes broadcasters feel the need to enlighten the audience with their wisdom. Except how video reviews work.

And it’s not just that they don’t explain other rules to us like we’re kindergarteners; they don’t explain anything to us that way. During one game from college football’s opening weekend — I don’t remember which, but it isn’t important — a defender made a big tackle. The guy calling the game, who earlier had given the whole replay explanation thing, said something like, “[Coach’s name] loves playing him in nickel packages because it gives him more opportunities to make big plays like that than he would in a base 4–3.”

And that was it! That was all he said! There was no explanation of what nickel packages are or why they are important. There was no analysis as to why this player is better suited for one defensive scheme over another. Apparently we, as a collective football-viewing audience, need no help understanding all of the strategic complexities that accompany the most elaborate sport in the world. But when it comes time to watch a replay, by god, we’d just stare at the TV in confusion if our brave heroes in the booth didn’t step in and explain that there’s a difference between a call standing and being confirmed.

Video reviews in college and professional football have gone completely off the rails. We don’t need to be reminded of what it takes to overturn a call. We don’t need to be told that a player needs “to make a football move” after the catch for it to be considered a catch. We don’t need a replay expert assigned to every game just so the guys in the booth can call him in and let him spew off his incoherent bullshit to waste a few minutes while the refs figure out the call. Just show us the play from every angle, re-show us the best angles in slo-mo a bunch of times, explain what you think the call should be, and then shut the hell up or talk about something else until the refs give an official ruling. If an obscure play happens that requires an odyssey through the uncharted pages of the rule book, fine — bring in the nerd from your network who memorized every page of the damn thing and let him “well, actually …” us.

Otherwise, I’m begging you, football broadcasters: Please stop talking down to us during video reviews. I know you think I’m just being overdramatic, but I can confirm — which, keep in mind, is different than my opinion simply standing — that this is driving me up a freaking wall.