If you want to tweet about your favorite National Football League team, don't go anywhere near an NFL stadium this season. On gameday, pretty much anyone involved with the production of an NFL game is banned from using social networks before, during and after the game. This policy is directed at players, coaches, officials and the media, but if I were a fan, I might be careful, too.
According to the NFL statement:
"Longstanding policies prohibiting play-by-play descriptions of NFL games in progress apply fully to Twitterand other social media platforms. Internet sites may not post detailed information that approximates play-by-play during a game. While a game is in progress, any forms of accounts of the game must be sufficiently time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., score updates with detail given only in quarterly game updates) so that the accredited organization's game coverage cannot be used as a substitute for, or otherwise approximate, authorized play-by-play accounts."
Now, there is probably little the NFL can do to John-Q fan in the stands if it finds out a person is describing game action on their Twitter feed or Facebook account. In fact, there are probably few fans that do this, and if they do, wouldn't it make sense for them to apply for media credentials and sit in the heated press box?
The policy is mainly to keep rogue players from slacking on the sidelines and media outlets from supplementing coverage from the NFL's television broadcast. After all, the "accredited organization" the NFL refers to in its statement is paying enormous amounts of money to air the game.
IT Business Edge editor Lora Bentley recently wrote about the NFL's Twitter policy,saying,
"Innovation with social media can help a team involve its fans just like it can help a company further involve its customers, but appropriate use is also key to social media's effectiveness. Just as in a corporate environment, social media is good for a team's business only to the extent that it furthers team goals. The minute it becomes counterproductive, it makes sense to limit the availability of social media."
I have a hard time comparing the NFL to a business, even though I'll admit it clearly is, so I don't see how it could do harm to let a few players continue to entertain NFL fans when on the sidelines by tweeting. After all, many companies allow employees to use Twitter during work to further the company's message and products. But, when there are large amounts of money involved - salaries, endorsements, television deals - the entertainment is quickly sucked out of the situation. And, the business part is all that remains.
Here are sample social networking policies housed in the Knowledge Network.