“This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!” Those words echoed through the households of millions of Americans during the December 7, 1963, CBS television broadcast of the annual Army-Navy football game. This game featured the first-ever use of instant replay on national television as Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh’s fourth-quarter touchdown run was replayed on-air at full speed. At the time, instant replay was novel. But now, it has infiltrated every major sport, leaving fans with one simple question: Does instant replay truly improve the sports viewing experience?

Originally conceived by Tony Verna, instant replay was designed to fill the time between snaps in a football game while also showing the action that takes place away from the ball. However, in the 60 years since its inception, instant replay has evolved and expanded far beyond that. In 1986, the National Football League (NFL) became the first major league to utilize instant replay to review and potentially overturn the calls made by the officials on the field. Since then, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has adopted instant replay in order to determine which team last touched a ball before it went out of bounds, whether a foul was flagrant, or whether or not a shot beat the buzzer. Most international soccer leagues have also implemented a Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) to decide if a goal was offside or not or if a penalty kick should be given for a potential foul. Instant replay has completely overrun the sports world and is also a prominent part of baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, and most other sports. 

The rapid expansion of instant replay across all major sports makes one thing clear: it serves a purpose. At the end of the day, all referees, no matter how good they are, make incorrect calls. The use of multiple camera angles and advanced, high-definition screens allows referees to review the play and uphold the fairness and integrity of the game. This allows for the athletes on the field and court to decide the outcome of the game, rather than poor officiating. Especially in tight matchups, instant replay can be the difference in determining the winner, as every little call is capable of making the difference. From this perspective, instant replay is a brilliant technological advancement that has increased fairness in sports.

Additionally, instant replay can make the fan experience more enjoyable. After a big touchdown or a buzzer-beater three-pointer, many people enjoy seeing the play again in slow-motion and from multiple angles in order to relive a spectacular moment. However, this is a double-edged sword. 

While some fans enjoy the occasional replay, most fans agree that the cons of instant replay outweigh the pros. The biggest concern with instant replay is how it affects the pace of play. When something is under review, all playing is ceased. This stoppage means fans at home are stuck watching an assortment of instant replays and commercials while fans in the stadium are left waiting for the call to be made, aimlessly staring at the jumbotron. In the stadium, fans and athletes alike are also forced to wait to celebrate their plays when being reviewed by the officials, stripping away the element of spontaneous excitement that sports possess. Furthermore, athletes are upset that this play break can cool down a hot team on the brink of a victory and provides a chance for exhausted players to get a crucial rest. Instant replay is capable of turning the last two minutes of a basketball game into a 25-minute showdown, which is certainly not a good thing.

By stripping away the human element of the game and introducing this technological tyranny, instant replay has also negatively impacted the authenticity of sports. The argument has been made that missed calls are an ingrained element of sports and that this overanalysis of every call is changing the game. This further scrutiny over every minuscule play results in NFL catches being overturned for the slightest bobble of the ball that could never have been seen with the naked eye. Catches that would have stood decades ago are no match for the intense lens of instant replay. 

Yet another unexpected issue with instant replay is the unrealistic standards that have now been placed on referees. Since every decision a referee makes is reviewed by the league, the fans, and almost everyone watching the game, all of their mistakes are being publicly broadcasted to the world. Fans expect them to be perfect even though they have an incredibly difficult, intricate, and fast-paced job. This has led to cheating accusations on many referees and an underappreciation for the difficult work that they do. In this past NFL season, less than 10% of reviewed plays were overturned or changed, meaning referees are doing an incredibly accurate job and are deserving of more credit. If sports fans are willing to overlook a dropped fly ball or the occasional air-ball, then they should be willing to overlook the occasional miscall as well.

Instant replay has evolved tremendously since that first Army-Navy game back in 1963. It has taken over almost every major sports league and has completely altered the game-watching and playing experience. While instant replay does clearly increase the fairness of every game and ensures that the right calls are made to the best of their ability, sports fans are left with one question and it is up to you to decide. Does instant replay truly improve the sports-viewing experience? Or has it negatively metamorphosed sports away from their roots and fundamentals? Regardless, instant replay will never go away. But hopefully, the major sports leagues can help improve many of the issues of instant replay that fans and athletes have found and vocalized in order to positively transform athletic competitions for the better.

Since the World Cup expanded to 32 teams in 1998, the eventual tournament champion has won an average of six matches over the course of about one month. To put that into perspective, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) has won six world cup games in the last 70 years combined, across 18 total tournaments. With these abysmal numbers behind them, a new and improved, young and talented group of athletes is ready to redefine American Men’s soccer, compete on the global stage and replicate the success that the United States Women’s National Team has consistently found. 

The history of the USMNT is long and painful. After not qualifying for a world cup in 40 years, the U.S. finally qualified in 1989. This was seen as a huge leap forward for the nation and its soccer team. The next leap that the USMNT took was when they defeated Mexico 18 years ago en route to their first knockout stage elimination in tournament history. But, America remained far from challenging European and South American powerhouses such as Belgium, France, and Brazil for the coveted, globally renowned Jules Rimet trophy. After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the USMNT is looking for redemption in 2022 and to truly dominate on their home turf in 2026. And, on the back of a new golden generation, it’s looking like they are on the cusp of their next big leap forward: making this dream a reality.

Throughout history, Americans have struggled to succeed on the top tier levels of European football in the English, Spanish, French, German and Italian leagues. Back in 2012, it was considered ground-breaking when USMNT captain, Clint Dempsey, signed for premier league contenders, Tottenham. But in recent years, that glass ceiling has been shattered. Young Americans have found success amongst soccer’s biggest stars and on soccer’s biggest teams. 22-year-old Christian Pulisic netted nine goals and four assists while helping lead Chelsea to the Champions League last year, 22-year-old Weston McKennie is thriving alongside global soccer sensation Christiano Ronaldo at Juventus, 21-year-old Tyler Adams helped lead RB Leipzig to the Champions League semi-finals and the USMNT is also representing top clubs Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, PSV Eindhoven and more. For the first time in a long time, there seems to be hope.

While American soccer players have long been criticized for lacking the technical skills that are ingrained into the European soccer player’s repertoires, this new wave of American youngsters is different. As America has invested more time and money into their soccer development programs, the results are finally starting to show. Thanks to the U.S. Soccer Development Association (USSDA), American youth soccer has changed for the better, replicating the successful programs that have been established in Europe for decades. While previously training 50% less than international counterparts, the USSDA now has aspiring USMNT stars training together exclusively for 10 months per year under the guidance of dedicated and licensed coaches. 

The impact that this has had on American development is immeasurable. U.S. Soccer Director of Boys Talent Identification Tony Lepore explained to Sports Illustrated how these players are more prepared than ever.

“The academies are clearly developing more players that are ready to make this transition from academy to pro, and they’re so much better prepared than ever before,” Lepore said. “Not only are they ready, but what we’re seeing now is that they’re ready to go to the top levels internationally and make a difference. They’re young players making a real impact and helping their teams get results.”

And 18-year-old Giovanni (Gio) Reyna is a shining example of this. Reyna has been playing, and most importantly contributing, for Borussia Dortmund since he was 16 years old and Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recognizes how advanced and refined his talents are for such a young age.

“Reyna’s a big, big talent,” Watzke said in a statement to The Athletic. “I think he will do a lot for American soccer in the next five or 10 years. Like Christian [Pulisic], he has time to develop. He needs time, but he already has everything a player should have.”

The healthy mix of peak-age talent, nationally labeled “The Golden Generation”, that the USMNT possesses, places the team in a promising position for these upcoming world cups. However, the USMNT must qualify first. After winning their last three games by a combined score of 15-1, the team is in good form. They have performed well during Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers but will be looking to beat Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica in order to secure their spot in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

This team certainly has young, refined talent, but most importantly the squad also has clear chemistry and determination on the pitch. No matter how promising the group looks, it is important to retain tempered expectations. To put it into comparison, according to ESPN, the USA currently has only three players valued at over $20 million while the French National Team has 25 players valued at least that much, who aren’t even considered talented enough to make the World Cup Roster. The USMNT will depend on further development out of their young sensations throughout the European leagues in order to start competing globally. While the team isn’t quite there yet, “the Golden Generation” is ushering in a new, redefined wave of American soccer and the fans now have hope for the coming generations. There is buzzing energy in the air surrounding men’s soccer and fast-forward to the 2022 and 2026 World Cups and the “I Believe We Will Win” chant will be resonating from coast to coast across this country.

Get to Know Martin Jarmond

Who is Martin Jarmond? Well, he is officially the new UCLA Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics. He is the first African-American Athletic Director in the history of the university and also the first athletic director to be hired without ever visiting the UCLA campus before. A two-time selection for the 2017 and 2019 Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, he is responsible for securing the coveted UCLA x Jordan partnership in early December. Martin Jarmond is a man with a lot of experience and even higher aspirations for the university’s athletic department. But where did Jarmond learn the skills necessary to take the reins of the Bruin athletic department?

Jarmond attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington from 1997-2001, obtaining his bachelor’s degree in communication studies. During Jarmond’s undergraduate experience, he served as a two-year captain of the men’s basketball team, leading the program to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2000. He also earned Colonial Athletic Association All-Academic honors in 2001. Following his graduation, Jarmond went to Ohio University from 2001-2003 and received his MBA in business administration and his MSA in sports administration. 

After college and graduate school, Jarmond went on to serve as an Assistant Athletic Director for Development at Michigan State University (MSU) for seven years. During his tenure, Jarmond served on the athletic director’s executive leadership team and was a key member of the $1.2 billion “Campaign for MSU” development team. 

In 2009, however, the Ohio State University called Jarmond’s name and he relocated once again, working his way up the ladder and eventually becoming the Deputy Director of Athletics. He served as the lead administrator for the basketball and football programs and was able to raise over $120 million for the athletic department in a two-year span. Because of his success as a leader and proven dedication to college sports, Jarmond was selected as a member of the NCAA’s inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Advisory Group and the Rose Bowl Advisory Committee, two prestigious positions for a young, up and coming athletic director. 

Following his stint at Ohio State, Jarmond was ready to make history. He accepted a job as the William V. Campbell Director of Athletics for Boston College, becoming the youngest athletic director of any Power Five institution ever at the age of 37. In his three years there, Jarmond coordinated a five-year plan to advance the program by fostering student-athlete academic development, strengthening competitive excellence, increasing external engagement, and enhancing facilities. Additionally, Jarmond raised over $121 million and developed another program for first-generation student-athletes. Under Jarmond’s leadership, Boston College thrived athletically and academically on its way to some of its best seasons in recent history. The football team reached a bowl game every year Jarmond was there, the women’s lacrosse team reached the national championship in 2018 and the school ranked eighth in the nation with an overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 94%. Additionally, Jarmond is responsible for the hiring of women’s basketball coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee who was able to lead Boston College to its best ACC finish in school history, while also being named ACC Coach of the Year.

After a successful campaign as Boston College Athletic Director, Jarmond got a call from sunny California to help build the UCLA athletics department. Chancellor, Gene Block, announced in a press release how excited he was to bring Jarmond into the Bruin community and the lofty expectations he has for him. 

“Martin is a principled, proven leader with a deep commitment to values that align with UCLA’s mission,” Block said in a statement. “From Rafer Johnson to John Wooden, this program has always inspired our student-athletes and supporters alike to persevere and excel. I am confident Martinc will help UCLA carry on that storied tradition, with his exceptional leadership, high integrity, and excitement for our future. Even in challenging times like these, there is so much to look forward to and so much potential still to be unlocked for our program and within our student-athletes.”

Upon his hiring, Jarmond released a public statement detailing his excitement to be a part of the renowned university. He has high aspirations for the athletic department and is determined to help each program find great success in the coming years.

“UCLA is an aspirational program in intercollegiate athletics,” Jarmond said in a public statement. “Steeped in history and success, the tradition of legends and barrier-breakers who call themselves Bruins is unmatched. I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics. UCLA Athletics aligns with my tenacious commitment to developing young men and women to be their very best academically and athletically. I will work tirelessly to ensure our student-athletes, alumni and fans remain proud of UCLA Athletics.”

Martin Jarmond is as determined and dedicated as anybody to the UCLA fans, students, staff, and alumni. He is eager to build on UCLA’s established history and tradition, lead the university’s athletic departments to success, and further the academic excellence of UCLA. He will be featured as a guest speaker for the Bruin Sports Business Association (BSBA) this coming Wednesday, February 3rd at 6 P.M. Jarmond will explain his life story, how he got to this point in his career, offer any advice he might have, and will happily answer any questions during the Q & A portion of the night. All guests are welcome and encouraged to attend, listen, question and learn from the man holding the reins of the UCLA athletic department. See you there!