Social media is having a dramatic and exciting impact on how we communicate and share information, as well as how we market and sell products and services. So why does the National Football League so anti-social media? It recently issued an edict on how and when its players can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools.
While a strange approach, you could argue the NFL wants to protect the integrity of the game by making sure players are focused on playing as opposed to updating their social media statuses. A ban on using social media tools until after post-game interviews are completed could, I guess, be justified given the media plays a key role in marketing and selling the game.
But where the NFL has gone completely off the rails is a declaration that people who attend games can’t use Twitter to provide play-by-play coverage. The NFL said that if it identifies people who are live Tweeting, it will ask them to stop. If they refuse, the NFL could sue them.
This policy is really dumb for a couple of reasons. First, the last thing you want to do is threaten your paying customers about an activity that in no way undermines or damages your business. I mean, how could live Tweeting seriously impact the NFL’s lucrative broadcasting contracts?
Second, Americans seem to have this thing about freedom of speech so if the NFL ever does file a lawsuit against someone, someone will go after it for violating the First Amendment.
Over the past 30 years, the NFL has established itself one of the premier pro sports business by controlling the product, including strict rules on how players conduct themselves on and off the field. But trying to control how its fans use social media is something else entirely. It’s misplaced and downright evil.