NCAA Puts Limits On Live Blogging Sports Events

from the a-new-low dept

For years, we’ve been pointing out how ridiculous it is for professional sports leagues to try to claim ownership of game data. Facts cannot be covered by copyright — and neither can your own description of the events on the field. However, many of the leagues still wanted to claim that you couldn’t report the facts of the game without paying a license. Trying to show how ridiculous this claim was, I asked where it ended, saying: “If I’m at the game, and I use my mobile phone to report what I see, is that considered ‘rebroadcasting’ the game? What if I’m posting the information to a web site?” The point had been that no one would rationally think that was against the rules. How naive I was apparently…

Acting even worse than a professional sports league, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), got things rolling last summer by ejecting a live blogger from a college baseball game. Apparently, the NCAA had decided that this was too close to “rebroadcasting” and ridiculously believing that fans might just watch a liveblog report rather than the actual event on TV. This kicked up some attention — and you would think that the NCAA would have realized what a dumb policy this was and backed down. Not so.

Instead, the NCAA has now instituted special “live-blogging rules” for anyone credentialed to cover NCAA events. The rules change per sport, but they limit how many times you can blog during the course of a game. For baseball: once per inning (not even once per half-inning!). For basketball, it’s five times per half, once during half-time, and twice in overtime. Football is three times per quarter and once at half-time. It even covers the more obscure sports: you can only blog 10 times per day at a swimming match, for example. You can see all the details here (pdf).

Now, before anyone goes screaming censorship or free speech or anything along those lines — these are the rules that the NCAA is setting for credentialed reporters. And, as a private organization, the NCAA can set whatever rules it wants for handing out credentials, no matter how mind-numbingly stupid they may be. If I were a publication covering NCAA sports, I would simply buy my reporters tickets to the games, rather than getting them in on a press pass under such rules. What’s really idiotic, though, is that this makes no sense. Limiting live blogging only hurts the sport. The people who follow live blogs are the really passionate fans — the ones who love the game the most. They follow the live blogs not as a substitute for watching the game on TV or attending in person — but because they cannot view the games that way and/or they want to feel the camaraderie of discussing the event with other passionate fans. Cutting off the ability of a reporter to feed info to these fans simply makes no sense. It’s hurting your most passionate fans for no good reason whatsoever.

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Comments on “NCAA Puts Limits On Live Blogging Sports Events”

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Anonymous Coward says:

NCAA - sanctioned indentured servitude

Let’s drop the facade – the NCAA and its member schools make so much money off of these “student” athletes, especially in football and basketball, is pathetic and dishonest to call them “amateur athletes” anymore.

Sure, the schools say this money helps fund other unpopular sports like men’s water polo or women’s lacrosse that don’t get the big tv revenue dollars, but I don’t buy that for a minute. I’d wager a lot more of that revenue goes somewhere else. I’m not suggesting the schools don’t use the money for the school’s expenses, but I’ve never seen a tuition reduction after a school has a national football or basketball champion, have you?

The implementation of these “rules” just goes to show there is a revenue generating operation going on, so why don’t the schools just own up to that fact.

Keith (user link) says:

No common sense at all

Live blogging enhances a sport. The NCAA has reacted as the movie industry reacted to VCRs. They think it’s a substitute good instead of a complimentary one. Our software has been used by hundreds of journalists/bloggers around the world to live blog sports at all levels to add to the experience for their readers. the truly insane part of the regulations is the hit the smaller sports would take. You have limitations on how much coverage you can give the Duke Women’s Fencing team?? Yes, that makes sense. They will change their ruling soon enough.

Doug B. (profile) says:

Re: Re #... 4

That ain’t gonna happen. For example, CBS will get tons of money from advertisers during the NCAA men’s basketball championship tournaments. Plus, they probably paid a ton of money for the rights to broadcast the games – which I assume they would not get back if they boycotted them. There’s no way they’d consider not covering them.

It’s all about the money – unless, of course, you happen to be an NCAA athlete ;).

Anonymous Coward says:

Stick with tech, obviously you don’t know about sports.

A true fan will follow the game on where they get a play by play. A true fan would be following it on or or other media sites that cover the game play by play.

No fan would go to a blog to follow it.

You also don’t know anything about writers either. Pay for their own tickets? Ha.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A true fan will follow the game on where they get a play by play. A true fan would be following it on or or other media sites that cover the game play by play.

Huh? I’m not saying that anyone follows blogs to get the play by play. That’s EXACTLY the point. There are plenty of other places to get the play by play. But they follow live blogs to get involved in in-depth discussions.

No fan would go to a blog to follow it.

Yeah, no real fans at all. Except that, let’s take a look:

Oh look. Over 1800 comments on a live game blog!

That’s a lot more common then you would think.

You also don’t know anything about writers either. Pay for their own tickets? Ha.

That’s not what I said. I don’t expect the *writers* to pay for their own tickets. I said that their publications (not the writers themselves) SHOULD pay for their tickets — even if I don’t expect them to. That’s the only way they would be free to report outside of these rules.

Next time, before you criticize, take the time to actually understand the subject.

Bob says:

Re: Re: Buying tickets for writers

Buying tickets in order to allow writers to blog would limit them to blogging. No post-game access to athletes or coaches, because they wouldn’t have credentials. So that would be a very expensive way to enable an on-site blog.

Since most of the games that draw blog interest would be televised, and there are ways to obtain stats on line during the games, it would be at least as cost-effective to have the blogger be off site.

It’s still a really dumb rule.

JJ says:

Lets just drop the sports all the way...

Lets get reeeeal green… Ya know lets take Al Gores plan all the way. Sports are a waste. People drive to a function, that is not required for life. Drop sports of all levels, pro, kids, college… No more soccer moms, no baseball, football, this will also reduce gambling… See it is a win win… No more NCAA… Make them get a real job… Yeah… This could work… Riiiight…

keith (user link) says:

Fans don't go to blogs?

I’m sorry. there’s room for opinion and then there’s absolutely having no sense for the subject matter. there are so many different perspectives that have niche followings on any one event (be it a sporting event or anything else) that cannot be met by, or any 1-3 of the biggest sites. never mind all the sports that don’t get coverage because they can’t draw a television audience (ie. most of them). bloggers open up those sports to people outside the local market who would otherwise never get any coverage.

Jason (user link) says:

What constitutes a blog entry?

So, what constitutes a blog entry?

Pressing send? What if I have one long blog entry that covers the whole inning? That allowed?

What if the Blog is set up so people can read it while I am still working on that one entry? It’s still only one blog entry…

What If I also have it set up so I can embed Picther/Batter/Fielding events vial HTML? And the Blog readers parse and seperate the Commentary, and the even data, for one live, real time, blog event?

So.. again.. What constitutes a Blog Entry?


Michael says:

What about out-of-town non TV/radio games?

My parents are huge UMass sports fans. They (or, at least, my dad) attend most home games for baseball, softball, football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer. Luckily they live 5 mins from campus.

However, following teams on the road is tough. Live TV or radio coverage is rare. Several local papers and stations coordinate coverage of the UMass teams on the road so that all the teams get coverage. Most provide frequent blog updates of road games if not being broadcast on TV or radio. During away BB games, the blog entries are very frequent (50+ per game) with scores, comments on players performances, and occasional off-topic jokes. These reporters also file traditional stories covering the game which appear that nite on TV or the following day in the paper.

Does the NCAA really want to discourage avid fans from following their favorite teams?

The Enlightened Spartan (user link) says:

Re: What a joke.

Yes, the NCAA is a poorly run, bureaucratic nightmare. This rule is stupid and a waste of time. But, even if put into effect it is a non-issue.

As for Reggie Bush — now you are asking the same organization to take action on him instead of on blogging. Maybe leave Reggie Bush alone and instead focus on the real problems… something like helping athletes graduate with real degrees and learning something instead of using them as purely promotional material.

Joel Coehoorn says:

Extend the 'buy their own tickets' concept to othe

> If I were a publication covering NCAA sports,
> I would simply buy my reporters tickets to the games

Agreed. I’ve wondering something similar about the recent NFL Network scandals. It’s been especially interesting to follow those up in Wisconsin, where the ‘Home Market’ is defined very narrowly as only the cities of Green Bay and Milwaukee, leaving other population areas like Janesville/Madison, Sheboygan/Fond du Lac, LaCrosse/Eau Claire, and Oshkosh/Appleton out in the cold.

It seems to me that the what a network really gets when it secures ‘broadcast rights’ from the league is access: The ability to set up satellite trucks in a convenient location, broadcast booths, good camera locations, locker room access, sideline access, a production booth, the cost of admission to the game for all the staff, and maybe some other support services.

I wonder what would happen if a local TV station without NFL ‘broadcast rights’ from one of those markets were to get about a dozen regular tickets to the game, and send a team outfitted with cheaper equipment to cover it. The equipment available would necessitate that coverage was delayed- it wouldn’t quite be ‘live’- and that the production quality isn’t up the standards we’re used to, but at the same time it might have a more authentic, ‘at the game’ feel to it. I have to believe the ratings for the broadcast would be very high.

Of course, any station that attempted this would be sued, but I think the law is on their side here. Would weathering the lawsuit be worth it for the ad revenue from the broadcasts + the good will earned from the fans? I think it probably would, but I’m not in a position to make that call.

The Enlightened Spartan (user link) says:

Who cares

I’ve been running the Enlightened Spartan blog on Michigan State football since 2001.

I really see no issue with this rule. Hey, we’re bloggers, not professional journalists. Right? If you are credentialed and in the press box, then you are a journalist and not a blogger, and I wouldn’t want to read your stuff anyways except on the evening news, your newspaper website, or tomorrow’s newspaper.

Any of my blogging is done from the stands with the fans, at tailgate parties or in the parking lot, before and after games, from the tv at home or a local bar. More than 3 times a quarter? Isn’t a few times a game enough? I WOULD NEVER GET A CREDENTIAL!

Get creative people. This is a non-issue. Gimme a break.

The Enlightened Spartan (user link) says:

Re: Re: Who cares

That is exactly my point. Were all those press credentialed “bloggers” necessary for the Frozen Four… and, why be credentialed?

I understand free speech and all that. But as I recall the Frozen Four was on TV. So, extensive game time updates are just another form of journalism and not “blogging.”

I really question the value of “credentialed blogging.” Sound to me very much like being somewhat pregnant. If you blog, don’t get credentialed and you follow your own rules. If you decide to get credentialed, you must listen to the man.

The Enlightened Spartan says:

I’m reading this closer: it only applies to NCAA-conducted championships… not every NCAA contest.

“This working credential is issued for the sole purpose of providing facility access to an accredited media
entity’s employee or designated representative who has a legitimate working function (media or game service)
in connection with this championship.”

Again, the key word here is CHAMPIONSHIP.

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