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The NCAA is not a Fan of the Blogosphere

Or at least the ones who don’t have express written consent to reproduce or retransmit any accounts of the game or descriptions thereof…For those of you who don’t know, Brian Bennett, a writer for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, was ejected from the press booth during the fifth inning of the College World Series on Sunday for live-blogging the game between the University of Louisiana and Oklahoma State.

Or at least the ones who don’t have express written consent to reproduce or retransmit any accounts of the game or descriptions thereof…For those of you who don’t know, Brian Bennett, a writer for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, was ejected from the press booth during the fifth inning of the College World Series on Sunday for live-blogging the game between the University of Louisiana and Oklahoma State.

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Here’s the Courier-Journal’s story, and here is Bennett’s blog retelling the event. Naturally, bloggers, especially ones covering sports, are up in arms about this, including the official blogger for the NCAA. A good look at the legal precedents of the issue can be found at the Sports Law Blog, which was featured in last October’s Best Blogs column, and may be come more important as the newspaper is considering taking legal action.

Although there have been numerous other live blogs of other sports events, apparently the NCAA decided to start clamping down. It’s an extremely myopic position to take, especially in light of all the new opportunities technology has created for disseminating live events, drawing more attention to them, and opening up new sources of revenue. In their infinite wisdom, the NCAA probably realized that there are millions of people out there who would pass up watching a game on TV or the Internet in order to risk carpal tunnel syndrome by constantly hitting the “refresh” button on their browsers. Why watch when you can read snark?

Even the New York Islanders, not exactly known as the most progressive of NHL teams (case in point: Nassau Coliseum), will even have a dedicated area for bloggers starting next season. While it looks like it’s a bit of a publicity stunt, and remains to be seen if they’ll let them live-blog games, it’s at least an acknowledgement that there’s new ways to reach the kagillion or so sports fans out there (less so for the Isles), and even some of us mainstream media types are trying to use new techniques to engage them (such as Rob Curley, who was profiled by senior writer Chuck Salter last year). Check out Deadspin’s amusing interview with their PR rep.

So listen up, NCAA: I don’t think letting bloggers do play-by-play in the press booth (which, by the way, is done all the time by people watching games on TV–Just ask Bill Simmons) is going to diminish the rights of those broadcasting the game. If anything, it’s going to enhance fans’ experience, by giving them another, unique voice providing commentary. Unless you like listening to Tim McCarver.

Or would you rather the bloggers take a page from Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam? “In Saigon today, according to official sources, nothing actually happened. One thing that didn’t officially happen was a bomb didn’t officially explode unofficially destroying Jimmy Wah’s Cafe. Three men were unofficially wounded, and two men whose identities are still not known at this time are unofficially dead, although the police, ambulance and fire department responded to what’s believed to be unofficial at this present moment.”

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