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SEC to Ban Social Media at Games: 4th and Dumb

steve raquelContributor IAugust 17, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 18: A fan of the University of Florida Gators watches play during the spring football Orange and Blue game April 18, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Imagine walking into Gator Stadium this fall and watching Tim Tebow throwing a game winning pass at the end of overtime.  How do you celebrate in today's age?  After hugging everyone around you and doing the chomp, you would probably take out your phone and do one or more of the following:

  • Take a picture and upload it to Twitpic or Facebook
  • Update your Twitter status to say " Unbelievable Throw!  Go Gators"
  • Take a video and upload it to Facebook or YouTube.

What if I told you that starting this fall, if you live in the SEC, you won't be able to.

It's true. Recently, the SEC released their policy to restrict the use of social media during any of their football games this fall.  Part of the issue is $3 billion deal that CBS has with the conference over the next 15 years according to The St Petersburg Times that gives them the only "authorized" media coverage of all SEC games.

Remember Big Brother?  He just showed up in the seat right next to you.

While I understand the agreement in principle, this policy is almost completely laughable, unenforceable, and in my opinion, creates an incredible backlash that will eventually cause the SEC to either bury the policy or publicly remove it.

Attempting to restrict 90,000 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium from being able to share their Gator passion, especially through social media, is like trying to keep a mama bear from her cubs.  I'll paraphrase the renown philosopher Mr. T when he says, "Pity the fool who won't let me use my I Phone..." 

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In addition, how will any stadium be able to enforce this policy with any level of consistency?  How can you tell the difference of one who is checking their email or is tweeting?  Will CBS starting going after fans like the music industry did for people illegally download music?

There will be lawsuits and I'll only guess a lot of Gator alums with a law degree that would gladly help out.  And that is only one campus.

What the SEC fails to see it is the fan is central to the enjoyment of the game and that by restricting the ability for fans to share their passion, especially through the use of social media, you've ruined the game experience for them.

Instead of restricting fans from being able to utilize social media, the SEC and CBS should look at ways to leverage the fans use of Twitter, TwitPic, Facebook, and YouTube to help make the fan experience even better than before. 

Get their input on a blown call via twitter, send their game winning shots to a Facebook Fan Page, or even record their post-game thoughts like a CBS reporter to YouTube that will be played that evening?

Unfortunately, since the SEC is worried more about pleasing CBS than it is the fans, they'll find out soon enough through social media how well the policy is received...and it won't be done in 140 characters or less.

And you can tweet me on that.

Steve Raquel is an online social media expert who helps manage the online lives of dozen of professional athletes as the VP athlete relations of FanFuego.com, an online sports social network that connects pro athletes with passionate fans. Contact Steve directly at sraquel@fanfuego.com or follow him on twitter at @sraquel.

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