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Chris Richardson
National Blogger

Chris Richardson

The lead writer for

Twitter Thought Police


Word is the NFL is getting ready to drop some new policies in regards to Twitter, which makes me think, "Why bother?" Do we honestly need a policy that tries to regulate thought and communication? The NFL has already established the parameters of no electronic communication during games, and that's about as far as Roger Goodell's interventions need to go.

Again, there are already rules in place to address things like referee criticism, so why should there be a policy addressing Twitter? If you've already established the rules of personal conduct and behavior, there's no point in creating a special set of rules for microblogging. If, for instance, Chad Ochocinco tweets something about a referees missing calls, he should pay the same price as a coach who says something similar in a post-game press conference.

Do we actually need another set of rules saying, "Thou shall not tweet about NFL officials," when it's already established there are repercussions for doing so with other methods of communication?

Perhaps Roger Goodell and the gang are trying to control the content of the message -- an ultimately futile effort -- or perhaps they would like to see these messages be broadcast on an NFL platform, that is, interviews with ESPN, the NFL Network and local media affiliated with whatever team is in question, instead of these players taking matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, in today's social media era, that's going to be impossible to enforce; unless, of course, censorship is the ultimate goal.

That would be hypocritical on the NFL's part.
If anything, the upcoming policy will have to be more reactive than preventive, meaning it will be a useful guideline only if the player is concerned about not getting fined. Essentially, it allows the NFL to punish without having to fight with the players union each and every time.

With the rules for communication already established - vis-à-vis what's punishable and what's not -- having a policy addressing Twitter spanks of overkill. On the other hand, monitoring the behavior of NFL tweeters and responding to incidents accordingly, each on its own merit seems a little more appropriate and prudent.

In other news, does anyone else feel like this upcoming policy is being developed solely for the Chad Ochocinos of the world?

By Chris Richardson  |  August 24, 2009; 12:12 PM ET  | Category:  Roger Goodell , Twitter Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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