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Instant replay comes to ND prep hockey

VALLEY CITY -- North Dakota high school athletics is entering the world of video replay.

But it was careful to set some guidelines on which video and where its replay capabilities would be limited to.

The North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors voted 8-1 on Tuesday to approve the adoption of using video replay from the official overhead goal camera during state hockey tournaments starting in 2013-14.

An athletic review committee recommended the use of replay 8-1.

"I told the athletic review that is a philosophical switch," NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling said. "We have never had anything to do with replay. That's why we changed the language to say using the official overhead goal camera."

In the event a goal scored comes into question, the officials will be shown footage from the overhead camera, from which a call will be made.

"What we heard from the coaches and the officials was they want to get it right," board member and Fargo Public Schools activities director Todd Olson said. "We have a tool, and in this case it is a static (stationary) type tool where if you turn the camera on it will record. If something does happen where there is a question whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed we can go back and get it right. That's what everybody wants to see."

Minnesota uses video replay during its high school state hockey tournaments.

Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks and Scheels Arena in Fargo have overhead goal cameras. Grand Forks' Olympic Arena and Purpur Arena -- venues that have hosted state tournament hockey games in the past -- do not have overhead cameras and replay would not be available at those sites.

Scheels Arena is set to host the state boys and girls hockey tournaments in 2014-15.

Play On! Sports makes a pitch to NDHSAA

The NDHSAA recently announced a new five-year television agreement with Forum Communications Co. to broadcast its football, basketball and hockey tournaments. On Tuesday, the NDHSAA received a presentation that could potentially bring its other sports to a broadcast audience.

Play On! Sports is an independent high school sports network that specializes in producing digital broadcasts of a variety of athletic events. The company is in the process of working with the National Federation of State High School Associations on creating a NFHS Sports Network that will begin broadcasting in 2013-14.

Thirty-two states currently use Play On! Sports to produce digital broadcasts that are available to view via webcast online for a subscription fee. The company has secured the video streaming broadcast rights of 10 states for the NFHS Sports Network.

"We see high school sports as perfect for digital distribution," Play On! Sports Chief Executive Officer David Rudolph said. "The reason is traditional television is expensive and limited to a certain geographic area."

Play On! Sports broadcasts are limited to what it identifies as Tier II programing events, which are not included or conflict with a state's existing television contracts it has in place with other broadcasting networks. Examples of Tier II programing in North Dakota would be state playoff football games, regional basketball tournaments, state volleyball tournaments and state wrestling tournaments.

"It helps us meet our strategic plan of webcasting our events that are not on television," Sylling said.

The NDHSAA has an indemnification clause that would prevent it from entering an agreement with Play On! Sports, but its attorneys are reviewing the legal feasibility of such a move.

If an agreement with Play On! Sports would be reached, the company would have exclusivity to broadcast any NDHSAA event not in its TV contract. It would use local contractors to produce the broadcasts.

Any event Play On! Sports doesn't declare to broadcast would be a declined event and would be available for another independent broadcaster such as BEK Sports to air.

More NDHSAA moves

The board approved increasing the number of Class A basketball games allowed in a season from 19 to 21 starting in 2014-15. ... The board also approved a district chair recommendation that states if one shot clock malfunctions during the game, the other will be used. Prior rules indicated if one clock malfunctioned, the other would be turned off and a stop watch be used.