Mitchell N. Berman


This Essay explores a question of superficial triviality: when sports use instant replay technology to review on-field calls, what standard of review should they employ? The conventional view is that on-field calls should be entrenched against reversal such that, if there viewing official has any doubt about the correctness of the initial call, he must let it stand even if he thinks it very probably wrong. Indeed, in the wake of officiating debacles at last summer’s FIFA World Cup, commentators proposed not only that soccer employ instant replay, but also that it follow the NFL in directing officials to overturn on-field calls only when “indisputable visual evidence” (IVE) reveals that call to be mistaken. This Essay argues that common wisdom in favor of IVE overlooks important considerations against entrenchment and likely rests upon mistaken premises, and it offers several concrete proposals for reform.