Unless you have spent the last 48 hours living under a rock, you have probably seen or heard about the ending of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
Country House was the second horse to cross the finish line, but after an objection, a video review and a disqualification that has left a sport that so few of us fully understand as the biggest topic of conversation at water coolers across America, the wire-to-wire winner — Maximum Security — was disqualified after he moved out of his lane and changed the outcome of the race.
I’ll let the race-horsing experts be the ones to discuss that specific incident, but the way that it all played out brings to mind some of the biggest and most dramatic moments in sports in recent years. Take, for example, this year’s NFL Playoffs, when a clear and blatant pass interference penalty on the Patriots was not called, costing the Saints their shot at the Super Bowl. In the football they play across the pond, there was a wildly controversial finish that saw two season-defining goals in a Champions League Quarterfinal match go to video review. One goal stood. One goal, the winner scored by Raheem Sterling in extra time, was wiped away.
College basketball has yet to really have a defining video review moment. If there is one, it’s probably one of two decisions that directly impacted the national title outcome. In the 2015 Final Four, Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes scored a bucket with 2:35 left in the game that tied the score against Kentucky. It also was blatantly after the shot clock had expired, but the officials did not have the ability then to confirm it with replay, and that played a major role in Kentucky not getting their shot at a 40-0 season. In this year’s Final Four, Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti appeared to be fouled and then have the ball get knocked out of his hands with the Red Raiders down 75-73 with about a minute left in overtime. When the officials went to the monitor, the ruling they made was Virginia ball.
Where replay has affected the college game the most is the amount of delays that are now popping up at the end of games. When every timing decision, every out of bounds call, every charge has to be reviewed, it slows a game that already has issue with watchability late in games just that much more difficult to handle.
Getting the call right is and should be the priority, but it shouldn’t have to come at the expense of the quality and watchability of the game. It’s 2019. We don’t need to go to the monitor for five minutes to add 0.2 seconds to the clock with 54 seconds left in the game.
Either way, I doubt we see something like this against in horseracing for a very long time. But if you’re wondering whether or not Country House can win the Triple Crown, he’ll be running in the Preakness — live on on NBC — on Saturday, May 18.