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Sports Media Best Practices: ESPN to Bill Simmons - You're Grounded!

Saturday, November 21, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 3:21 PM, under , , , , , ,

Sometimes I have to disagree with Ken Fang of Fang's Bites, who yesterday said the sports media was focusing on a nothing story of ESPN's Bill Simmons being banned from Twitter for two weeks because he crossed a line on Twitter. But there really is a story here.

This past August, ESPN instituted what many considered to be a horrible policy giving ground rules for how their employees used social media and social networking tools. They made it very clear that their behavior using these tools clearly reflected on the company.

At the time, I wrote that while it was not known how the policy and its language came to be, it is something that all companies need to institute to protect their brands, and to protect themselves in the case they took the drastic step of firing someone for their actions in the public space.

But what did Simmons do that crossed a line? He personally attacked a competitor and a competitor organizarion with tweets like this:

"WEEI's "The Big Show" was apparently ripping me today. Good to get feedback from 2 washed-up athletes and a 60 yr-old fat guy with no neck"
and this:

"Hey WEEI: You were wrong, I did a Boston interview today. With your competition. Rather give them ratings over deceitful scumbags like you."

and maybe, just maybe this:

"Thanks for a great LA signing! Highlight of tour: a porn actress (who couldnt be nicer) buying 4 books & turning the entire line catatonic."

Predictably, his fan base is in an uproar, threatening to never visit the ESPN site again if they did not let up on the poor man.

Frankly, these people do not have a clue and could care less about ESPN trying to manage their business and their brand, the only brand making money for Disney these days. However, it is indeed a tricky line that ESPN is toeing here because they are still "allowing" him to tweet about his book tour.

This "grounding" may just be what happens on a first offense under the policy, and it will be interesting to see where it goes from there. It will also be interesting to see how the ESPN Ombudsman addresses this (if at all) because this may be one area that Don Ohlmeyer is ill-equipped to address,

I encourage readers to visit my original story on the ESPN Policy, and read the article about managing social media risk that is linked to there.

Currently have 2 comments:

  1. kzfone says:


    ESPN and WEEI are now partners. They are no longer competitors.

    And I respect your right to disagree. I feel this is really not a story and Simmons does his best to perpetuate a myth that he's greater than he really is.


  1. The story is not so much about Simmons but what ESPN is trying to do to get some sort of control to protect the brand (or as some have suggested to protect their collaborators like WEEI)

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