SEC Kicks Social Media to the Curb

18 08 2009

It’s the beginning of November.  The air is crisp in Jacksonville, FL.  The smell of intoxicated tailgaters is rampant throughout the parking lot of the stadium as they gather for the Annual World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the Florida-Georgia football game.  Cheers ignite from the raucous crowd as the Florida Gators score a touchdown.  Florida mascot, Albert Gator is so thrilled that he decides to pull out his phone to tweet and boast to all his Twitter followers that the Georgia bulldogs are going down.  And just as he pulls out his little green phone, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) police sweep in and kick him out of the game for violating a rule put in place by the all mighty SEC brethren.

While the above situation would not literally happen (at least I hope not) it does however give insight to a new media policy that the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is looking to implement in upcoming seasons of all NCAA Division I sports.  According to an article from the Tampa-St. Petersburg Times, the SEC is actively looking to implement a new media policy that states “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.”

That means tweeting is a no no!  No taking photos of you and your friends at the game and uploading them to Facebook!  Does that mean you can’t upload a photo that you take with a digital camera to Facebook?  The grey area here is immeasurable.

Yes folks, you heard it right…the SEC (Southeastern Conference, not the Securities and Exchange Commission!) is now attempting to ban the use of accessing any social media site or account, while in any SEC stadium.  Why would the SEC do this?  It’s simple—the risk of financial loss.  From television rights alone, the SEC will receive a staggering $3 billion over the next 15 years for their TV broadcasts.  Yet, the conference is afraid that Albert Gator and his student Twitterers are going to pose a threat to their broadcasting revenue, drawing millions of users away from their televisions to their respective twitter pages.  Give me a break.

It’s not even necessary to lay out an argument against the SEC.  Before this outrageous policy is put into effect, maybe SEC should answer the following question: “Is a diehard football fan not attending the game, going to watch the game on his/her television or follow tweets from friends?”  I think someone on the SEC decision making committee is looking at the wrong end of the spectrum.  In fact, if the SEC were smart enough they would be hiring the sharpest social media gurus in the Southeast United States  to launch a social media campaign of their own, and ensure that their social media presence overshadowed all others.  And, by cross-promoting their social media with their broadcast media they could potentially gain an even larger and more committed audience.  But who am I to judge?  The truth is that fans are some of the most important players out on the field, and you just can’t bench that kind of social media talent.

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