Instant Replay is Used for the First Time

Rollie Stichweh runs with the ball during the 1963 Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia (Image from ForWhatTheyGave.Com)
Rollie Stichweh runs with the ball during the 1963 Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia. (Image from ForWhatTheyGave.Com)

On this date in 1963, the first instant replay during a sporting event was shown on television.

Here are some things you may not have known about the technology.

The first replay of any type to be shown on television was during a 1955 Hockey Night in Canada broadcast by the CBC. In that instance the network used a quick-turnaround kinescope film replay which aired later in the game. In 1963, Tony Verna of CBS Sports invented a system to allow instant replay of videotaped events. The system was used for the first time during an Army-Navy football game. The first play that was instantly replayed was a touchdown scored by Army’s Rollie Stichweh. The machine, which weighed more than half a ton, was balky and was used for only that single play.

Two years later, CBS debuted an analog disk-storage-based system that allowed for more replays and freeze frames. Instant replay has been credited with increasing the popularity of American Football on television.

In 1986, the National Football League introduced a limited instant replay system for officiating the game. The system originally used an official in the press box who could view the same replays as viewers at home. The early system ran into communication problems and slowed down the game. The experiment was dropped in 1992. A 1998 game between the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks spurred the reintroduction of replay in 1999. In the game, officials gave New York quarterback Vinny Testaverde a touchdown despite the fact that he was a yard and a half from the goal line. The Seahawks fell one game short of the playoffs that season and the coach, Dennis Erickson, was fired following the season. The current system relies on coaches to challenge questionable calls, and the review of all scoring plays and turnovers.

Replay officiating has since been introduced into most major sports, including basketball, cricket, rugby, auto racing and tennis. Major League Baseball introduced its system in 2008 with the review of home run calls. In 2014, the system was expanded to allow each team’s manager one challenge per game, and a second challenge if the first one resulted in an overturned call.

One sanctioning body which does not allow the use of replay technology is FIFA, which says mistakes by officials are part of a desirable “human element” of the game of soccer.

Our question, Which service academy leads the all-time series between Army and Navy?

Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in the United States. It’s National Cotton Candy Day and International Civil Aviation Day. It’s the birthday of author Willa Cather, musician Tom Waits and basketball legend Larry Bird.


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