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NCAA clarifies its position on live-blogging events, digs itself a hole

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Okay, so the NCAA has clarified its position on live-blogging NCAA events. Go ahead, they say, have at it. But you can only mention the score and the time remaining.

Well, thanks, folks. Bloggers everywhere now have express permission to be an ESPN bottom-screen ticker. Somebody say woo.

Here's the kicker:

"Any reference to game action in a blog or other type of coverage could result in revocation of credentials," the policy stated, according to a copy provided to The Associated Press.

Oh, no. They're going to take away bloggers' credentials? Yikes! The end is near.

Wait. I don't have credentials. Oh yeah.

They still don't get it. This same conceptual mistake was made by the University of Tennessee sports information department when I called them last season about whether I could listen in to the weekly players' and coaches' telephone conferences. The numbers were published in the media guide, but I figured I'd ask first. (Yes, I understand the perils of being a permission-first guy in a forgiveness-later society.)

Anyway, I asked the receptionist whether one had to be credentialed to dial in to the phone conferences, and in ten seconds, I was on the line with Bud Ford, head of UT's SID, listening to him lecture me on the fine distinctions between a mainstream media outlet with an online presence and, well, me, who has no print publication. He was nice enough, but the message was one of resistance: no calling in without credentials and no credentials without ink.

No offense, y'all, but you're still not getting it.

Last season, Knoxville media dude Dave Hooker lost his media credentials for the Alabama game because he contacted Inky Johnson to interview him without going through the SID. So what's to prevent me from going to Inky's hospital room in Rochester, MN when I was up there visiting relatives at the same time he was having his surgery? I mean, other than discretion, which I exercised. I didn't contact Inky, even though all I wanted to do was tell him I was praying for him and that I wished him well. I could have, though, and the Tennessee SID couldn't have done anything about it. Heck, I could have marched into his room for the express purpose of interviewing him and posting it on Rocky Top Talk. Yank my credentials? I don't have credentials.

Bloggers are subject to the law. But they're not subject to the rules of an organization to which they do not belong and they're not subject to the particulars of a contract to which they are not a party.

Give bloggers credentials, and they'll be subject to your rules. No credentials, no rules. Had I been advising the NCAA and the various universities, I would have recommended that they welcome fan-based bloggers into the fold, give them credentials, and subject them to the rules. But the line seems to have already been drawn, and it appears that bloggers have been permanently relegated to the fringes.

Okay, then. But I don't think that's what you want.