Why the NFL and NBA's Twitter and Social Media Policy Is Wrong

Joe LibrizziContributor IDecember 20, 2009

To tweet is simply answering the question, "What are you doing?" in 140 characters or less according to social networking site Twitter.

Web-based social networking has transformed over the past decade, but not until recently have we seen it impact the sports world.

On Friday, Dec. 18, Milwaukee Bucks stud rookie Brandon Jennings was fined for violating the leagues social media policy.  So let's take a closer look at these policies. Both the NFL and NBA implemented a social media policy before the start of the 2009 seasons.

The NFL released a written statement on its policy regarding the use of Twitter and other social media platforms by players, coaches, and other team personnel on game days. 

It stated in part, "coaches, players, and football operations personnel are permitted under league policy and with club permission to use social media on game day during specific time periods before and after games...up to 90 minutes before kickoff and after the game following media interviews."

Roughly a month later the NBA followed the NFL with a similar but less stringent policy.

The NBA policy simply bans players from using Twitter and other social media sites 45 minutes before game time until after players have finished their responsibilities after the games, including their media interviews.


But are they taking it too far?

I think the current NFL and NBA policies in place are sufficient but should and will be modified in the future.  New media, a form of communicating through digital television and the Internet is leading the way these days. 

It provides a platform for players to connect and interact with their fans at anytime whether it is during the season or in the offseason.  This allows players and teams to increase their fan base, which is especially important for teams and players in smaller markets. 

Brandon Jennings was fined $7,500 from a Twitter posting he made on Friday.  It wasn’t the content of the post but rather the timing. 

Jennings tweeted, “Back to 500. Yess!!! “500” means where doing good.  Way to Play Hard Guys.”

Besides from the grammatical mistakes, the posting was great.  Here’s a player simply excited after a double overtime win and letting his fans and teammates know it.  But the NBA said it was the timing of the post that cost Jennings.  He posted the message before giving his post game interview, which violates the social media policy.  

But with the transformation of media, why can’t a Twitter posting be considered a post-game interview as long as the content is acceptable by the league? 

I am not saying it should take the place of a postgame interview but rather can be complementary to a post-game interview.

Why can’t a player tweet prior to a postgame interview?

As long as the content is acceptable by league standards I just don’t see a problem.  Players should be held to the same standards while conducting interviews with the media.  For example, if a player makes a remark about poor officiating during an interview the league fines them.  So the same should hold true for Twitter and other media outlets. 

I don’t think players should be allowed to use these media platforms during games.  However, the NFL and NBA need to reconsider their policies on social media and allow players to use such platforms before and after games with no time restrictions.  It is a way to communicate and interact with the fan base and as long as the content meets league standards it should be allowed.