While it’s probably not fair to attach the “No Fun League” tag to the NFL in this instance it certainly makes for a better headline, so there. The league, which earlier this year linked itself to the US Marine Corps and others by limiting social media use by its ‘employees’ has expanded those terms before the start of the regular season. With the start of the regular season a little over a week away the premier US sports league has decided to at least say that it wants to exercise more control over how the game and its image is portrayed in the new world of social media interaction.
On Monday, the league announced that it had modified its social-media policy to limit Twitter and social-networking use by players, coaches, league officials, and even the media.
The NFL said that it will let players, coaches, and other team personnel engage in social networking during the season. However, they will be prohibited from using Twitter and from updating profiles on Facebook and other social-networking sites during games.
In addition, they will not be allowed to tweet or update social-networking profiles 90 minutes before a game and until post-game interviews are completed.
The rules even extend to people “representing” a player or coach on their personal accounts.
The NFL didn’t just stop with the league itself, though. The organization also said that media attending games will be prohibited from providing game updates through social networks.
It appears that the league is trying to extend the policy that has is used in the broadcast of the games which is usually read during a down time in the action by an obviously bored announcer restricting any retransmission or reproduction of the game and that it’s prohibited etc, etc. The NFL claims it is trying to prevent people from providing a play by play description during a game because it would be an unauthorized use of the product. How they intend to enforce this is another question altogether.
So will the players test the limits? Probably so, especially those who make up for on field lack of performance by over performance in the public eye via social media like Chad Johnson Ochocinco. How about the media itself? There are likely to many wannabe sports reporters out there (and actual ones as well) that will expand their coverage of these games and the ‘stories’ surrounding them via Twitter, Facebook etc. What will be interesting is just how the league metes out justice when the first violators are caught.
So why did I say that the NFL’s ‘No Fun League’ may not apply here? I think they deserve to exercise some control over how the product is presented at least around the games themselves. Imagine that a player misses a play or causes a penalty because he is busy tweeting to his adoring (bizarre) fans? Will it be a game or a media showdown? I like the games myself.
So your take? Whether you like football or not this type of situation is playing out in companies and organizations every day as the ‘rules of engagement’ in the social media world are being set on the fly. Precedents are being set and mistakes are being made all the time. Is the NFL setting a good precedent or committing the Internet’s version of a turnover?