Phenomenology and the Question of Instant Replay: A Crisis of the Sciences?

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 5 (3):331 - 342 (2011)
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Abstract

In this article, I address the question of whether or not the use of instant replay in sports improves the ability of officials to make correct calls. I pay special attention to the use of instant reply in American gridiron football. I first explain the method of static phenomenology, by recourse to Edmund Husserl's work and apply a static phenomenological method to the official's quest for evidence in the analysis of a still frame of video. Second, I expose Husserl's genetic method of phenomenology and apply it to the official's search for evidence and accuracy when assessing a play in a frame-by-frame or super-slow-motion analysis. I then look critically at the intersection of these two methods in instant replay analysis. My conclusion is that in cases calling only for a static analysis, I think that instant replay is beneficial. In other cases, the application of a static, frame-by-frame analysis, abstracted from lived experience, to a context of movement, can disrupt the normality of perception such that it yields problematic evidence. The problems that ensue from employing a static analysis to a situation calling for a genetic analysis cause me to recommend a limited use of instant replay in the types of cases which involve a genetic analysis. Epistemologically, I think that lived-time analysis is the optimal mode of perceiving and judging certain events. Humanistically, my concern is that the use of instant replay can disrupt the life-world of sport

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Seth Vannatta
Morgan State University

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