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NFL (No Fun League) Policies Around Social Media Expand



OchocincoWhile 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.

cnet reports

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?

  • http://www.tmgcustommedia.com andrew

    It seems that the “social” aspect of social media is almost being formalized out of the process. The question presents itself: Is our brand rigid or flexible? Are we trying to be too proper in a casual setting? Are we better off using resources to build a wall to keep the sea change out – or are we better off using resources to build a boat to keep afloat in a rapidly changing landscape? I think the NFL situation underscores the crux of the problem that almost every single brand right now is facing.

    Great post, Frank.

  • http://AskEdHudson.com Ed Hudson

    I don’t know what everyone is getting so bent out of shape over the NFL’s decision on this. I understand it completely. Where there is an opportunity to cheat, someone will. With the NFL limiting tweeting or updating Facebook, etc, during (and 90 minutes before) a game, is completely within their rights in trying to limit such cheating, gambling, and whatever else someone can come up with. And anyone who follows pro sports should know… allowing players, coaches, or anyone affiliated with them, to update things on Twitter and Facebook, is opening pandora’s box for someone to cheat or tamper with the system. I think the NFL is taking the right stance in not allowing this during games. During games, these guys are being paid (VERY WELL) to concentrate on the game, not their social ties.
    .-= Ed Hudson´s last blog ..Still Don’t Believe Social Media is Real? =-.

  • http://www.simplycast.com Michael

    this ruling is not surprising. The NFL loves to have full control over everything, thinking it will limit problems down the road. They know they can because it is not like people are going to stop watching.

    The major reason is for the gambling aspect and cheating. I have no idea why someone would tweet important information but stranger things get posted every day.

    The NFL does not need gimmicks or to stay in with cool trends and they know that.

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  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    This is completely ridiculous: “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.”

    THEY ARE JOURNALISTS. Let them tell us what is going on. That bogus “play-by-play” explanation is awful at best. They are there to report. Let them report through whatever resources they have.

    The NFL is greedy and are going to pay a steep price eventually. Looking at how many home games that will be blacked out in local networks this year, I would think that they should be pointing their resources elsewhere.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Bing Shows You Who Is On Your Shared IP =-.

  • http://www.fastbreakdigital.com Alessandro De Zanche

    Hi Frank,
    I agree with you: there is the need of a boundary, and it is totally within NFL rights an role to set them.
    There are two things that let me think that NFL hasn’t 100% got the size of the change brought by social media, though.
    One is the constant focus on what is prohibited, rather than developing a positive and open policy so leveraging the power of social tools and platforms (including setting limits) which would just benefit the league itself. (http://www.fastbreakdigital.com/blog/2009/08/10/do-not-post-says-the-league/ is a blog post where I touched the subject).
    The second item that makes me think NFL is acting a bit naively is about the media attending games being prohibited from providing updates during games. While this in theory can make sense, the practical enforcement would just make the league look ridiculous: what if a journalist will keep sending sms to another person who then will post it? Will they check sms to girlfriend, wives and lovers too?
    As I said, fair but…
    Congratulations on the post!
    Alessandro De Zanche

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