Last week our speaker was FCRC member, David Ames, who delivered an informal and entertaining presentation entitled “A View from the Booth”.  Professor Ames has been involved in Division 1 NCAA football for over 30 years; first as an on-field official and later (and currently) in the Instant Replay Booth. When instant replay was added to the college game in 2006, Dave was able to extend his career with a game he loves. Perhaps thinking out loud, he shared his thoughts - why he continues to love his “work”-access, levity (escape), ego, teamwork with his crew, and, of course, his love of sports. I think the audience understood when he repeated “it’s just a game” but, nonetheless, of great value to participants and fans.

Officials are hired for one year, fired, and then (hopefully) rehired. The characteristics of a good official or a new hire are hard to define. Background checks (for obvious reasons) need to be rigorous. It’s a big responsibility even if it’s “just a game”. The shared details of the “booth” were interesting . Long distant flights are the rule. Booth officials generally arrive 3 hours before a game, review details with the producer, how the videos will be seen, locate the cameras, review the angles and talk to the technicians and examine the equipment. Of course, the latest rules must be understood by all decision-makers. During Dave’s career the rule book has grown from 1 to 76 pages! An important part of the latest rules is the focus on ”targeting”.
Finally, Dave showed 3 game videos as seen from the booth as we listened to live discussions leading to a review decision. The first video showed  a contested reception. The last two illustrated factors determining whether “targeting” should be called. We were privileged to get this inside look and some of us may never think of “instant replay” quite the same