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ESPN’s trying out REF CAM in bowl season, and it’s gonna take some time to get used to

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Twitter doesn’t love it, but we’ll all get used to it eventually.

It’s bowl season, so that means ESPN’s gonna try some stuff out with their game production. In the first bowl of the 2017 slate, the Celebration Bowl, they slapped a camera on a referee on the sideline for a first-person viewing experience.

It’s kinda like the first person football mode from the NFL 2K5 video game.

You can see here the camera on the bill of the ref’s hat.

The field of vision is narrowed and it’s a really tight shot. It’s also shaky which reminds you that it’s on someone’s head. It shows that as much as we think we want to be really connected to the game and inside the experience, the eye in the sky is a much better way to watch the game. But this does add a depth to replays which may prove helpful if ESPN continues to use it throughout the postseason. A tricky sideline call may be cleared up with the sideline ref cam’s view ... like this one:

And a go-ahead TD late in the game was also a great look via ref cam.

And of course, our Twitter mentions didn’t exactly express effusive praise because that’s what happens whenever something new and different occurs.

This isn’t the first sport ESPN’s used the ref cam on. They brought it out for college hockey recently.

The Frozen Four telecasts will feature a Ref Cam for the first time, allowing viewers to experience the game through the eyes of the referee. ESPN will utilize the vantage point mostly in replays throughout the three games. In addition to having a camera affixed to his helmet, the referee will also be mic’d up and audio will be incorporated throughout the telecast.

Expect ref cam to just be a pilot program for now in a few bowls here and there. If we see it enough, as a viewing public we’ll just get used to it and there’ll be ref cams all over the place next season. But it’s certainly not a novelty, and during the Celebration Bowl it proved it has value.