Pat Turner of Severna Park, Md., lives and breathes hockey. When he's not skating, he's leafing through an instructional book on the sport. When he can't get hold of a puck to practice with, he'll take the pacifier from his mouth and push it around on the ice with his hockey stick.
Pat is just barely two. "He was probably five days old when he first went to a rink," says his mother, Ellen. "He always wanted to skate." That wish was answered last September when his dad, Leigh, laced up Pat's size-6 single-runner skates—the tiniest available, but still much too large—and took him out on the ice.
These days, wearing a helmet and lugging a stick taller than he is, Pat moves down the ice with steely determination. After practice he can be found with one of his Peter Puck hockey books, or on his tricycle. He rides it around the living room, pretending he's the Zamboni driver resurfacing the ice. Although Pat badly wants to be a rough-and-tumble hockey player like the big boys, he does have one handicap to overcome. "He's not even potty-trained," says Leigh.
The NFL's experimental use of TV replays as an officiating tool came under renewed fire in the Super Bowl. In the second quarter CBS took 8 minutes and 52 seconds to air a reverse-angle replay of a key pass to Bronco Clarence Kay that had been ruled incomplete, probably incorrectly. Says CBS producer Bob Stenner, "I can't give you a good reason, so help me God, why we didn't see that thing." By the time the replay was found, play had long since resumed, the Broncos' three-point lead had shrunk to one, and the momentum had shifted. Denver fans are calling it the Rosemary Woods Nine-Minute Gap.
"The Super Bowl may have dealt a death blow to the chances of replay being voted back in," says NBC Sports executive producer Mike Weisman. When the NFL approved the replay experiment a year ago, four clubs were against it. Only four more votes are needed to scrap it when the league owners convene next month.
Such a move would be misguided. For all its problems—the most serious of which is the length of the review process—the replay makes for a fairer game. NFL officials should sit down and discuss ways of improving the replay system before terminating it.
Weisman wants to be part of such a discussion. He suggests a summit conference between the NFL and the networks. "If we all put our heads together, we could come up with a system that everybody could live with," Weisman told SI staff writer William Taaffe. Weisman pointed out that the league adopted instant replays without soliciting advice from the very people who would be providing them.
One idea that deserved consideration, said Weisman, is taking a TV commercial timeout during each appeal. Commercials scheduled to run later would simply be aired earlier, thus shortening the length of the game. And during the breaks the networks would routinely furnish the replay ref with all replays, making it less likely that the conclusive angle might be discovered too late.
Clearly all angles on the replay haven't been examined. It's too soon to give up on the experiment.