Pieces of Hate: Slow Motion Replays

Chariots of Fire has a lot to answer for, if you ask me. It might have won four Oscars and had a great theme tune but the montage at the start is stupid. It’s a film about two Olympic athletes – who you would imagine can run pretty fast – and they put it to slow motion so that it looks like they’re running in treacle. I hate slow motion.

I have three problems with ‘slo-mo’. Firstly, the way that some channels use it as visual masturbation. It’s one thing to see a phenomenal piece of skill or appalling defending. It’s another thing entirely to see Gabriel Obertan’s face slowly contort after firing wide from 10 yards. In that situation, I’d much rather see a replay at double speed with a comedy sound effect rather than yet another bloody slow motion image of someone looking embarrassed.

The Spanish have done a lot of good for football over the last ten years, but watch any Real Madrid or Barcelona game now and you can expect innumerable extreme slow motion clips of Ronaldo or Messi whenever ball goes out of play. Extreme slow motion is the video equivalent of a heat map – it might look nice, but it tells you absolutely nothing.

In the Champions League final, there was a slow motion shot of Javier Mascherano swapping his boots. Swapping his boots! Even Martin Tyler couldn’t come up with something to say about it. It had no value. When you’re got Messi, Neymar and Suarez on the pitch, leave the arty stuff to them. Who in the TV production studio thought, “Hey, you know what, next time the ball goes out, let’s show people some footage of a lad changing his shoes”? Whoever it was, I would like to buy them a drink and hear why they did it. And then I’d pour it over their head.

Secondly, slow motion replays are used too often, raining our expectations to unrealistic levels. We use it to analyse every decision nowadays. This would be great if referees were like Neo from The Matrix and could slow down time, but they can’t. If they could, Mike Dean would do it and then run around popping children’s balloons just because he hates fun and desires only misery and darkness.

Referees get one look at an incident from one angle and, yes, sometimes they crap the bed and get it wrong. Do we really want to hear the pundits reviewing every minor call? To hear them, after looking at the same incident from six different angles at glacial pace, mumble that they’ve seen them given?

Finally, slow motion replays have given us the hoary old cliche that, “it looks worse in slow motion.” Of course it bloody does. Even innocuous tackles can look like aggravated assault when you run them in slow motion. If you take footage of a player who arrives a split second too late and slow it down, obviously it looks like the player has more time react and has just clobbered the opponent anyway. Watch it four or five times and it’s time to get the pitchforks out and chase the poor bloke out of the country.

To quell the rise of the  superfluous slow motion replay, everyone who works in television should be made to watch Pele’s goal in Escape to Victory. If the thing that you’ve slowed down doesn’t make you feel like Max von Sydow after rewatching it, don’t bother showing it. To encourage analysts to actually analyse the game they’re watching, how insisting that pundits get one replay and then they have to make a call?  Finally, for every time a slow motion replay is shown of a bad tackle, a real time replay must be shown too. That’s a little thing called balance.

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be watching Chariots of Fire. Speeded up.

You can follow Sean Douglass on Twitter (@sean_douglass)

Is Sean right? Are slow motion replays the stuff of the devil? Is he just ruining everybody’s fun? Write to us. Let us know: [email protected]

Pieces of Hate: Slow Motion Replays
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