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Archive for January 14, 2023

Jan. 14, 2023 — A side benefit of VAR?

The 2023 calendar year sees the technology of the video assistant referee (VAR) coming in to women’s collegiate lacrosse as well as the National Women’s Soccer League.

VAR systems vary, but game officials are going to want a number of camera angles, both on the pitch and in the critical scoring area, to determine everything from the status of the ball to crease violations to offside calls.

Last week, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman put a number on the VAR system: six cameras. That would be the minimum number of cameras needed at each and every NWSL match in order to have a proper replay review system.

That number of cameras stands in stark contrast to some of the lacrosse and field hockey broadcasts we have been subjected to in the last few years, where it seems only one center-line camera is deemed necessary. Given the growth of the game of women’s lacrosse and the speed, I have a feeling that a number of colleges are going to have to upgrade their video apparatus in order to make VAR practicable for lacrosse.

I think it will be a particular concern for schools and conferences who don’t have field hockey — and therefore, no access to a video referral system. The Big South, Atlantic Sun, and Conference USA are amongst the conferences which will likely be playing catch-up in this regard.

But I think that there will be a push on the part of the Pac-12 (Cal-Berkeley, Cal-Davis, and Stanford have field hockey) to fully staff league matches with a VAR-capable system.

I’ll be interested to see which women’s lacrosse leagues show their commitment to the game by enabling, and funding, a video review system.