Southeastern Conference To Fans: Shut Up And Watch
If it's Wednesday, it must be time for another exhibit of Establishment cluelessness about digital technology. Today's villain: the Southeastern Conference, which is indulging in a particularly absurd bout of control-freakery over what fans in the stands might do with their smartphones.
The St. Petersburg Times' Michael Kruse explained the mess in a good piece on Sunday that spotlighting the offending language in the SEC's revised media policy:
Ticketed fans can't "produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the Event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event. ..."
Even by the dismal standards of sports leagues' past conduct towards paying fans, home viewers and credentialed reporters, those rules are downright kooky. They were met with nearly instant, thoroughly deserved ridicule--see Deadspin's sarcastic take on the situation. Yesterday, the SEC backed down. Sort of.
As Kruse noted in a follow-up piece, the conference will let fans text or Twitter but still doesn't want them shooting video clips of a game:
Here, then, is the new, softened language: "Personal messages and updates of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable." Also: "Absent the prior written permission of the Southeastern Conference, game action videos of the Event may not be taken ..."
Good luck with that, SEC. As I've noted before, just about every phone these days includes a camera, and most cameraphones can record video too. Many of those phones can easily upload video to the Internet as well. And there is nothing that a sports league can do about that--if the thugs in Tehran haven't been able to stop people in the streets from uploading videos, the security at a football game certainly won't be able to prevent 90,000 people in the stands from recording and uploading what they want.
The SEC's revised policy, however, will work quite well to advertise how poorly this conference understands gadgets and the Internets in general. And if, like my wife and I, you went to a non-SEC college, it also provides yet another reason to root against the SEC's schools.
August 19, 2009; 12:56 PM ET
Categories: Digital culture
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