A Louisville Courier-Journal sports reporter collided with NCAA policies. Brian Bennett was live blogging in detail a baseball game between the University of Louisville and Oklahoma State, and had his press credential revoked by a NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) representative, citing the organization's policy prohibiting real-time updates on the Web from selected events. The Courier-Journal has a follow up story, offering both sides of the story.
The NCAA is protecting its money source, the exclusive broadcast rights sold to outlets like ESPN, and contends that revoking the reporter's press credential is legal and justified. The Courier-Journal quotes an NCAA spokesman:
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in an e-mail yesterday that "reporters covering our championships may blog about the atmosphere, crowd and other details during a game but may not mention anything about game action. Any reference to game action in a blog or other type of coverage could result in revocation of credentials."
Good luck with the anti-piracy approach NCAA. What happens when thousands of people show up with the cell phones and Twitter the game action live? Is it illegal to listen to a radio cast of a game and blog that almost live? Live bloggers don't need press credentials to attend a baseball game, and live blogging itself is a kind of sport that attracts 'players.' The NCAA could take legal action and try to shut down non-press accredited live bloggers who attract audiences and interfere with the NCAA's signal strength, but that's a Draconian approach that will call up First Amendment rights issues.
At the San Francisco Giants AT&T Park, wireless access is everywhere. Will the famously controlling Major League Baseball (MLB) force the Giants management to turn it off to shut down live bloggers? Will game attendees be checked for smartphones and EVDO cards? Not going to happen.
The flood gates have opened. If the NCAA, MLB or any other sport authority wants to impede the flow of real-time information through the Internet, it better hire the best live bloggers and compete on the playing field. The fact is that many people would want to watch or listen to the officially sanctioned game broadcasts, while perusing a live blog of a game, instant messaging friends and Facebooking.