A college football division (the American kind) has u-turned
on its policy that attempted to clamp down on bloggers and amateur
sportswriters, effectively ‘banning’ social media from its stadiums, by
prohibiting fans from recording sideline video, audio or photographs – oh yeah,
and the illegal Tweeting about games.
The NCAA’s South Eastern Conference, arguably the US’ most
fearsome college football division, issued new rules for fans at all game
events – no Twitter feeds, no Facebook photos, no YouTube videos.
Understandably, the outrage was swift and immediate, as
hundreds of angry fans took to the internet to express their disbelief.
No Twitter feeds? Seriously?!
The official policy, released Monday, said fans could not
“produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any
material or information about the event, including, but not limited to, any
account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information
concerning the event.”
Within a day, three leading media organisations sent a
letter to the SEC, protesting the restrictions – and with due cause, the rules
affected big media too (ie, the Twitter thing and SEC videos used on newspaper
The SEC hastily backtracked on its policy, issuing a public,
and defeated tweet (yeah, a tweet): “To our Twitter fans, we have heard
you. We’re working on clarifications to our policy and should have something
A SEC spokesman has since said: “The intent of the
policy was never to eliminate social media” adding, “Twitter fans,
please share the great times you have at our stadiums with your friends”.
The spokesman, Charles Bloom, hit the nail on the head with
this one: “We probably took traditional media rights language and tried to
apply it in a new media world.”
The revised policy now reads “personal messages of
scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the event are
Games can’t be recorded on video, but pictures can be taken
for personal use.
College football in the United States is a huge billion
dollar industry, with its fans renowned as some of the loudest, drunkest, most
fervent louts in the world of sport.
Why the bigwigs at the SEC wanted to take away their fans Twitter and YouTube
is understandable – money – but they honestly could not have thought that they
were going to get away with such blatantly draconian restrictions.
Does it remind anyone of the state of the music industry,
but on a larger, real life scale? Ivory towered suits issuing ridiculous thou
shalt not’s towards their dedicated fan base at the behest of their bottom
If anything, it serves as an example of social media
secretly worming its way into every facet of our waking lives. Who would have
thought that Tweeting about a football match would be deemed illegal, like,
Is this where we are headed, where live, public events are
not to be broadcast through our own trivial means, seems like a step in the
wrong direction to me.
Just another clumsy attempt of big-boardrooms trying to lock
down the growth of social media, good luck with that.