India's FIBA Commissioner and experienced referee Norman Isaac told The Hindu's A. Joseph Antony a few days ago of the Basketball Federation of India's (BFI) plans to implement an Instant Replay System (IRS) - like the DRS in Cricket or Goal-Line Technology in Football - to eliminate human error from officiating in the game of basketball. The IRS will use more enhanced technology than ever before to ease the work of referees and officials at major Indian basketball games.
The IRS was first introduced to Indian players and coaches through a clinic at last year's Senior National Basketball Championship in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. "This was to enable players and officials from all states assembled for the country’s premier event learn the latest rules and avoid their misinterpretation," Isaac, who is also the chairman of the BFI's Technical Commission, told The Hindu.
More from The Hindu's report
It works as follows: An IRS official, sometimes seated with table officials, monitors the action based on live footage from six cameras set up at strategic locations around and above the court. Replay reviews are conducted after gathering as much information as possible from valid sources. While decision-making will be collective, powers are vested with the referee to deliver the verdict.
Whether a review is required in the first place will be his choice. The revaluation must be conducted as fast as possible, during which no unauthorised person must have access to the IRS Visual Display Unit. After the assessment, the referee shall make known his decision in front of the scorer’s table, which, if necessary, will be communicated to the two teams’ coaches.
In case of disagreement, the referee may consult the umpire(s), table officials and the commissioner, if he is present, to take a final decision.
In FIBA’s constant quest to keep pace with the changing times, this innovation will have far reaching implications. The review process will extend to a) end of period or extra period, b) last two minutes of the fourth quarter or extra period, c) any given time during the contest.
To find out whether a field goal attempt is successful, a check is made on whether the ball is released before any foul is called, or game or shot clock signals are sounded. The vigil will also be on violations concerning the shot clock, the eight-second limit and the area of play.
Also under IRS purview will be whether a field goal was a two or three-pointer, who the last player was to cause the ball to go out of bounds, identifying the correct free throw shooter and those involved in fights or leaving the bench area, and the appropriate penalty to be handed out. It will also ensure the main game clock does not stop after the officials blow the whistle, and it does not start running before the ball is in play to define how much time actually expired and how much remains in the period.
Any one who has ever played in local level (and often, even national level) tournaments in India has at some point suffered an unfair decision at the hands of referees. Often, those decisions are clear human errors: the referees can't see and hear everything on a busy basketball court perfectly at all times and must make many decisions on limited knowledge and instinct. But sometimes, a pre-game agenda to favour a certain team (through favour or threat) leads some referees to make questionable decisions, too. The new IRS should help enhance the physical short-comings of the refs and keep them honest in case of any purposeful wrongdoing with visual evidence of the play.
There was no indication of how soon the new system will begin to effect basketball tournaments in India, but we hope that they are ready by this year's Senior Nationals (likely to fall in December).