BlogRadio: How Sports Franchises Spite Fans

A blogger gets kicked out of the press box and why that’s a problem.

Ever listen to sports radio and hear an update from a game? “Red Sox lead the Yankees by two in the sixth inning, Spurs up by 10 on the Cavaliers at halftime, Maria Sharapova up one set to none over Anna Chakvetadze in the quarterfinals at the French Open.” Forget that last one, you’re unlikely to hear tennis anything on sports radio, at least in the U.S. But what if a blogger sends out the same updates?

A blogger from the Louisville Courier-Journal was kicked out of the press box at the NCAA baseball World Series for blogging live. Live blogging means blogging about an event as it happens. Speaking of which, stay tuned because Pat Davis and I will be live blogging the Wimbledon final. What is the ATP gonna do, come to my house and kick me out on the street in the middle of the match?

Anyway, the NCAA gets money from companies that send out live updates to cellphones and other media outlets so they didn’t appreciate the blogger doing it for free. Live blogging is also similar to radio broadcasting except that it’s written instead of verbal. Radio stations pay fees to broadcast games.

Last year, CDM Sports successfully sued the internet arm of Major League Baseball for the right to use players’ names and statistics on fantasy baseball sites. Names and statistics are news items and so are in the public domain. Scores of games should fall into the same category.

And what about a chat site? There’s nothing preventing a group of Red Sox fans from watching the game on television and chatting about it nonstop in an online chatroom. Talk Tennis has a separate forum for sharing real time tennis match results and discussion.

Internet technology has already made fantasy sports a hugely successfully business. Sports leagues are cutting off their noses to spite their face by limiting bloggers and fantasy sports sites. These leagues would lose licensing money but fantasy sports sites and bloggers advertise their sports for free. Limiting these sites is limiting the exposure of the sport and discouraging fan interaction.

I’m not suggesting that bloggers be allowed to sit behind home plate with a video camera and stream the game on youtube. I’m saying that written items are news items and should be treated as such. You can’t stop people from talking about the game online and why would you?