It's a social world out there.

Olympic athletes feel social media restrictions.

Posted on: February 7, 2010

Athletes have been training all over the world for months, preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympics that will begin later this week.  This year viewers will see new options for following the games, many of them will come in the form of social media.  Twitter and Facebook pages for the games and many of its teams and athletes will be a flutter with news and results. Social media will play back up to NBC coverage, but will likely be taking a much more prominent role for viewers interested in the 2010 games in Vancouver.

Social media in 2010 is a powerful enough communication too for the Olympic committee to regulate how athletes use it.  Regulations and laws around the Olympics are strict and are revisited year-to-year to ensure equality among competitors.  This year, the committee decided that in order to protect infringements on copyrights and contracts athletes have restricted use of social media. They can use social media outlets, but exactly what they can post is restricted. Although it seems just what is and what isn’t acceptable maybe understood differently from athlete to athlete. A recent CNN story on this issues revealed that some athletes will be “benching” themselves from their twitter and facebook accounts in order to avoid complications.

The legal issues the Olympic committee is trying to avoid lie with endorsement contracts, sponsor references to those not partnered with the Olympics and the committees desire to avoid those who aren’t journalists acting as if they are.  It is interesting to see the committee honor journalists in ways they aren’t seeing as of late.  The Olympics is an event that should be reported by trained journalists, and not by the athletes themselves. In years past athletes wouldn’t have been able to report up to the minutes stats, feelings and news as they can today.  The article  outlines just how athletes should feel they can use social media services throughout the games.

“‘Athletes are free to blog during the Games,’ says Bob Condron, the Director of Media Services for the United States Olympic Committee. ‘And Twitter is just a blog that’s written 140 characters at a time.’

There are some restrictions on what athletes can do online during the Olympics. According to the IOC Blogging Guidelines for the 2010 Games, athletes and other accredited people must keep their posts confined to their personal experiences.

‘You can’t act as a journalist if you aren’t,’ says Condron. ‘You need to do things in a first person way.'” (1)

This article and the social media coverage around the games is another example of how social media use is requiring legal restrictions.  The Olympic committee did the right thing in thinking ahead about how athletes would use their social media outlets and how this could cause infringements on many Olympics sponsor regulations.  However, athletes have also been quoted saying they will be taking to social media to report on their Olympic journeys, it should be an interesting winter games, tune in on NBC or your favorite social media outlet!

1) McClusky, M. (2010, February 5). Athletes confused by Olympic social media rules – CNN.com. CNN.com – Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. Retrieved February 7, 2010, from http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/0

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