Instant replay in Mississippi high school games? It’s already a reality for the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) and could happen for the Mississippi High School Activities Association, but probably not for at least a couple of years.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has given member organizations authority to use replays during postseason events. NFHS, headquartered in Indianapolis, writes the rules of competition for its member organizations. MHSAA is a member of NFHS, as are the associations in most states.
“We will probably research it and look into it for Mississippi,” MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said. “Perhaps in two or three years from now if it is something viable and it would help us from an officiating standpoint, that would be something we would look at on the high school level.”
The NFHS did not mention any specific sports, but Hinton said football and basketball are two that might benefit from replay – football for fumbles and ball possession, basketball for shots at the end of a period and out of bounds possession.
“We will have conversations with our schools to see how they feel about it.”
Mississippi will also look at what other states are doing. Hinton said Alabama has initiated replays on a pilot basis.
Winona athletic director Charlie Parkerson, Choctaw County athletic director Ben Ashley and French Camp athletic director Rusty McKnight expressed reservations about the possibility.
“Instant replay at the high school level is going to be difficult,” Parkerson said. “It would have to be something that was well planned out. I just don’t know how it could be equally applied. Who will be in control of the replay? Will it be the home team? And who would be looking at it?”
Parkerson said replay might work out for some of the larger schools that already have the equipment. “I think it would be cost prohibitive for the smaller schools.”
Concerns include costs and fairness. “Unless every school in a region has it, it would be an unfair advantage,” Hinton said.
“It’s a great idea, but in practice I just can’t see it being successful in high school athletics,” Parkerson said.
Ashley, also the Choctaw County head football coach, said he is “very skeptical…I just don’t know how it’s going to be possible. Who is going to film it? Who is going to be responsible for it? What is the procedure? What is the protocol?
“It’s going to be very difficult with a small budget to do something like that.”
McKnight said “My first concern is about what technology would be available, especially at the 1A level, to provide good enough video and replay.” French Camp is a 1A school.
“While the idea sounds good, it seems to me it would be hard to pull off,” McKnight said. “It could be a nightmare if it’s not done right.”
Louisville athletic director and head football coach Tyrone Shorter was more positive. “I think it would be good, especially in big games to make sure the referees get it right. In the past, there have been some games when teams lost because the referee made a mistake on the call.
“The referees in Mississippi are human. They make mistakes.”
MAIS already has replay on a limited basis for football and basketball. It was initiated at the Overall basketball tournament last year, with football added in the fall.
“We really, really had success with it in football,” said Les Triplett, MAIS director of activities.
Replays were used in the six championship football games, with coaches given two challenges. Challenges were reviewed by two officials in the press box.
“The most surprising thing is that we had very, very few challenges and very, very few overturns,” Triplett said. “Our goal is just to get it right.”
For basketball, Triplett said replays will be used “full blown in the Overall semifinals and finals and we do a limited replay in first round games.”
The three on-court officials decide when a play will be reviewed, then go to the scorer’s table for the review.
MAIS was able to initiate replay last year because it is an affiliate, non-voting member of MHFS and not subject to its regulations.
Virtually all major professional leagues use some type of replays, as do Division I colleges for football and basketball. Even Little League baseball employs a replay system for its World Series.