Sports Groups Follow Olympics' Lead On Stifling Speech And The Media

from the gold-medal dept

The Olympics are well known for representing high level of achievement. The sad thing is that these days, that achievement is more about how strenuously Olympic organizers protect the commercial side of the games, trampling anything that gets in the way, like free speech or other laws. Now, plenty of other sports groups are following the Olympics’ lead and imposing all sorts of restrictions on athletes and the media, all in the name of “protecting” their sponsors or other commercial images. The Pan American Games are following the Olympics’ lead and banning athletes from blogging, while other groups like the organizers of the Rugby World Cup are placing restrictions on how many photos media outlets can publish online. That group is also putting restrictions on how outlets that get media credentials can print photos: they demand that headlines not be superimposed on them, in case type blocks out a sponsor’s logo. This is all getting a little bit silly. While realizing that these events are massive commercial undertakings and, at their heart, businesses, the groups putting them on need to realize that they’ve become so big, in part, because of all the free marketing they receive from the media. Alienating the press and restricting how they cover events in the name of “control” won’t grow revenues, it will ultimately hurt the sports and events. But don’t think that the Olympics are standing still. As part of their efforts to get special trademark protection for words like “winter” in advance of the 2010 winter games in Vancouver, organizers are asking for the ability to circumvent the legal process by getting injunctions against people they think are infringing their trademarks without having to prove harm. A Canadian civil servant defends the proposed legislation by saying it’s necessary to protect the Olympic brand and the games from ambush advertising. But who protects citizens from the Olympics when the law won’t?

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Comments on “Sports Groups Follow Olympics' Lead On Stifling Speech And The Media”

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Vincent Clement (profile) says:

I thought the Olympics were about showcasing amateur athletes? Guess I was wrong. They are all about protecting commercial interests.

In 2010, during the winter, I’ll be heading to Vancouver to play some games and, hopefully, strike some gold. I may stop by a jewellery store and buy a silver bracelet or some medals. Then I’ll drive up to Whistler and look for a bronze statue. On my tenth run down the mountain, I’ll remember that I don’t have a sponsor, and no way to get back home.

Screw you IOC. This Canadian won’t be watching your two-week long commercial for your sponsors.

Sports Fan says:

Re: Re:

Sorry Vincent. The Olympics are not about showcasing amateur athletes. They are about the best athletes competing against each other to determine who is best.

The amateur part is only for those countries that volunteer to not send their best and hence diminish the quality and validity of the games.

The article itself is pretty sad. Seems like a power/money grab

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

An Ideal Solution...

It would be ideal if when a sporting event starts getting too high and mighty for it’s own good, if perhaps the media could just say “fine, since we can’t keep track of all these new rules you keep creating, we’ll just avoid coverage of your event all together” – and mean it.

How many years of zero media coverage would they accept before they back down?

no name says:

ok, so if the sponsors are alienated who do you expect to pay for everything? the athletes? oh yeah that’s right, 99% of athletes don’t have jobs because they train full time and need the income from their sponsors to do things like eat, sleep and buy the thousands of dollars worth of equipment they need to perform. while i think a lot of the censorship is over the top the sponsors do need some form of protection. otherwise these events won’t exist.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The sponsors and the IOC have the same protection that every other company has. They want additional protection on top of that.

Let’s say I own a B&B in Vancouver. I have a web site. If use the phrase “Come enjoy winter in Vancouver in 2010”, there is a good chance I will get sued by the Canadian Olympic organization. Any other year, no problem. That is complete bull.

As to these events not existing, maybe that is a good thing. Perhaps, the IOC would have to cut the fat, reduce the number of events and perhaps, just perhaps, make use of existing facilities instead of sucking public funds to build new ‘state of the art’ facilities. Maybe, we could focus on the athletes and events, not on the sponsors?

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