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Did Arkansas Violate SEC/NCAA Live Blogging Rules?

Thursday, September 11, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 12:39 PM, under , ,

Athens, GA (September 11, 2008) - The NCAA has a draconian set of live blogging rules for championship events. These rules are enforced for all events in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). All you have to do is read any of the SEC member schools' media guides and you will find this section:

While a game is in progress, the use of textual statistical information is time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., updates pertaining to score, injuries and national, conference or institutional record-breaking performances, a condensed half-time story) so that an organization’s Internet or online game coverage does not undercut the authorized and rights paying fee organization’s rights to play-by-play accounts of the game and/or exclusivity as to such rights. This policy is in effect for all SEC sporting events including championships.

The limitations for each sporting event are listed below:
Soccer: Five times per half; one at halftime
Volleyball: Three per competition; one in between competition
Football: Three per quarter; one at halftime...
Wa all know the rules are absurd, but if you are in the press box it is likely they will be enforced. Unless of course the violator is the school itself. Last Saturday the University of Arkansas Assistant Athletic Director for New Media, Bill Smith, live blogged the Razorback's game with Louisiana-Monroe. And if you read the blog, which is linked below, you will find that he gave very close to real-time updates. In fact he definitely did more than 3 posts per quarter. He is also talking about adding Twitter to the mix.

Now of course, this is his job, but on its face it appears to be a huge double standard in the press box that says Media, you cannot live blog, but we can." He may not be violating the letter of the rule since he is with the University, but it sure looks like it violates the spirit of the rules.

But lets switch the thinking here. Bill Smith gets new media. Perhaps he is subconsciously showing his understanding on how absurd the NCAA live blogging rules really are in reality. He also knows it drive traffic to their web site:

Week two saw the number jump three times -- the game-day blog in 24 hours became the No. 1 story on the site, with the post-game story at number two. Both of our non-conference games, not exactly traffic drivers, now set the stage for a big number with our first SEC game in two weeks.

Then he throws out a bit which does not gel quite right:

For the media relations office, again, why range off into the land of bloggers? It's about content, and the ability of the institution to bring an official account of the event for its fans. How different is this from radio play-by-play? The beauty of the blog is the ability to interject other details that perhaps radio or TV can't, or no longer will, relay. The reaction of the crowd to plays, the songs of the halftime band set, the names of the captains, the little side notes.

What exactly is it that makes these game day blogs official content? What makes them more reliable than a fan in the stands live blogging the same things? The only advantage someone like Bill would have is quicker access to the official stats. But these get on systems like Game Tracker very quickly (well when the connections are working).

The bottom line is that schools like Wisconsin and Arkansas are doing something that they tell the media is a no-no. And by doing this, they are giving excellent examples of how absurd the SEC and NCAA policies really are.

So when will the NCAA and SEC realize that the rules are different, and fans of all size are saying "Game on!"?

Related Link(s)

Bill Smith's Blog: Live Blog Impacts
Arkansas Live Blog from Louisiana-Monroe Game

Currently have 1 comments:

  1. Bill Smith says:

    Respectfully, I think you've missed the point of the official blog from the sports organization and how it fits into the order.

    We have certain rights -- they are audio, video and data. We as the institution chose to provide those rights to rights holders to use, or we use them ourselves.

    The audio rights belong to ARSN; and as such, no other radio station can violate those rights.

    Video rights belong to others, and thus the restrictions apply to how much content can be shown in a newscast.

    And now we have data rights. Unless negotiated, no on-line entity may use our live stats for their presentation of our events. We present them live on our website. The same applies to a live blog -- the institution has the right to present its unlimited stream of updates because we are the rights holder.

    Therefore, in our opinion, we didn't violate the rules for several reasons:

    First, the NCAA rules only apply to NCAA championship events.

    Second, as with almost every similar rule, the institution is exempt on SEC live event rules.

    Third, as the owner of copyright for the event -- like any other sport or entertainment venue -- we reserve the ability to promote our events on our own platforms.

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