The NFL recently announced a new policy regarding the use of social media, mainly Twitter, on game days. Players and their representatives are banned from “tweeting” 90 minutes prior to and during games, and may resume using social media following post-game media interviews.
RaceTalkBlog contends that this policy was implemented in order to please media parties who have hefty contracts with the league. A “tweet” takes less time and energy than a sideline interview at halftime or after the game, but the NFL wants its viewers to get their initial coverage from the mainstream media rather than the players themselves.
RaceTalkBlog notes that the NFL needs to understand the importance of connecting directly with fans, and I tend to agree. The idea of a player using social media during a game baffles me, but I’m not sure it would do the league much harm. I’m not saying players should have their cell phones on the sidelines, but a halftime “tweet” from the locker room is harmless. It wouldn’t prevent viewers from consuming the traditional broadcast on TV or radio by any means, and would foster a personal connection with fans. A media interview with a reporter is exactly what it sounds—mediated by a third party. A player choosing to share his thoughts with his fans during halftime via Twitter shows a desire to share information with fans voluntarily and I think there’s something very genuine and authentic about that.
RaceTalkBlog also reported that the NBA plans to issue a similar policy. One of its players, Charlie Villanueva, “tweeted” during halftime of a game last season, prompting many teams to institute rules of their own. Several NBA players were also involved in social media blunders this past off-season, including UStream and Twitter incidents. The NBA has an online community called NBA Fan Voice which I plan to cover in the future.