The Southeastern Conference was the latest entity to issue a formal policy on social media content. The conference's edict initially appeared to prohibit social media production of any type at events. That interpretation meant that a fan sitting in the stands at a University of Alabama football game could not upload photos or write game descriptions and post to his or her Twitter or Facebook page, for example. Needless to say, the response to news of the policy was outrage among users of social media. The SEC was skewered by bloggers and sports fans alike. A quick clarification from the SEC ensued, noting that the policy was not directed to individual fans but content producers such as bloggers or other persons that seek to capture video and post online.
The revised policy is easier for the passionate followers of SEC sports to accept. The conference is in the first year of a lucrative media contract with ESPN. The SEC is doing what any business (yes, it is a business)would do to protect the interests of a valuable partner. Given the investment ESPN has made in SEC sports, it is imperative that the SEC implement policies that spell out what is and is not permissible in the social media realm. The stakes are too high to allow parties that do not have media rights to do an end-around and capture video or audio for distribution.
Social media tools can allow SEC sports fans to share their passion, commune with fellow fans, and deepen their connection with SEC partners like ESPN. It is unfortunate that the SEC lost sight of this fact; its initial announcement of the social media ban came across as very heavy-handed. To its credit, the conference got it right and can now let social media connect fans with the sports and teams they so dearly love.
The New York Times - "Leagues See Bloggers in the Bleachers as a Threat"
Labels: ESPN, SEC, Social Media, Southeastern Conference