Saturday, December 22, 2007

Buy or Sell: NCAA ban/regulations on live blogging

It's been a while since I posted on an issue where I could let readers buy or sell. I'm bringing it back tonight.

I'm sure many of you remember back in June when University of Louisville reporter Brian Bennett was evicted from the press box in the fifth inning of Louisville's 20-2 victory for live blogging during the game. More recently the NCAA has adjusted their policy a bit this year to include regulations for live blogging all sports. In all their ridiculosity, here they are:

Fall Sports

Soccer: Five times per half; one at halftime
Field Hockey: Five times per half; one at halftime
Volleyball: Three per Competition; one in between Competitions
Football: Three per quarter; one at halftime
Cross Country: Ten per day/session
Men's Water Polo: Three per quarter; one at the halftime

Winter Sports
Ice Hockey: Three per period - one in between (includes overtime)
Basketball: Five times per half; one at halftime; two times per overtime period
Wrestling: Ten per session
Indoor Track and Field: Ten per day/session
Swimming and Diving: Ten per day/session
Bowling: Ten per day/session
Gymnastics: Ten per session

So besides being a little pissed about the NCAA inhibiting my passion for liveblogging bowling and water polo, I find these new restrictions meticulous,and pointless. I'm definitely selling the NCAA's regulations on liveblogging.

I understand that the NCAA is trying to protect the reserved rights of those that are paying to broadcast these events. Where is the line drawn here? Is the NCAA going to have officials coming around to notify me that I only have one post left for my Wrestling live blog until the session ends? Even with blogger you can blog from your cell phone which poses an interested facet to the problem also.

"It's a real question that we're being deprived our right to report within the first amendment from a public facility. Once a player hits a home run, that's a fact. It's on TV, everybody sees it. They (the NCAA) can't copyright that fact. The blog wasn't a simulcast or a recreation of the game. It was an analysis." - Jon Fleischaker, attorney for The Courier-Journal

So, what about fans in the stands mobile blogging with blackberries and cell phones? What about when I text my dad updates of UND hockey games from the Ralph Engelstad Arena? Where is the line drawn?

I understand the principle behind what the NCAA is trying to do. The NCAA claims ownership rights to any during-the-game information and that it can be distributed only through those outlets to which it has granted rights. They're trying to protect their assets. However, I think that the whole thing is insignificant and fruitless. What is the difference between constricting and inhibiting livebloggers at sporting events to those at home watching the game on ESPN? It's going to be virtually the same thing. And, regardless, how does the NCAA plan to enforce these regulations?

I definitely wouldn't put it past the NCAA to pick a fight with the media and the first amendment on this one because I, of course, can see first hand what happens when the NCAA wants to pick a fight. Also, maybe it's because I'm a blogger (though not a big live blogger), but I am going to sell the NCAA's new regulations on live blogging.

What are your feelings on the issue? Do you agree with me or disagree? Drop comments!

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