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With the 2019 CFL regular season about to kick off, we want to be as clear as possible on the role of the Command Centre, the standard on which it will conduct video reviews and the philosophy behind that standard. The Command Centre will focus on only overturning calls or non-calls made on the field where a clear and obvious mistake has been made. In other words, we do not want the game officiated from the Command Centre. The officials on the field have the best sense of the game and usually have a superior vantage point compared to a camera on the sidelines or in the stands.
The Command Centre is just a “back up” to correct clear and obvious mistakes – what are sometimes called egregious errors. Anyone who has played the game, or cheered for a team, knows how one views any play can be somewhat subjective. So how do we, as objectively as possible, define clear and obvious? Clear refers to the visibility of the issue in question. Can you see, for example, the ball clearly on the replay? Or the foot on the sideline? Is the camera angle straight down the line? Or is it off to the side? Obvious refers to an indisputable reference point, such as a yard line, a sideline, or a knee down. Can you easily see, for example, that the contact on a receiver was early? Or do you have to resort to looking at it in slow motion?
Simply put, you shouldn’t have to watch something several times, or watch at different speeds, if it is clear and obvious. Why is clear and obvious our standard? Why not strive to get every single call right, even if the error was less than clear and obvious? We want to keep the length of Command Centre reviews reasonable. We do not want video review to slow the pace or flow of the game. We especially do not want it to adversely affect our fans’ enjoyment of the game.
Watching players stand around while the Command Centre looks at a play for a long time is simply not fun. We also want to reduce the total number of challenges by making sure our coaches know they should not use a challenge to simply seek a second opinion; they should only use it to challenge clear and obvious mistakes.
Like every player and every official in every game, no standard is perfect. But we believe this approach is in the best interests of our great game.
Senior Director, Officiating