With Tiger Woods playing at Torrey Pines in this weekend's Farmers Insurance Open, it's the first time the PGA Tour begins to sneak into the general consciousness of sports fans in 2013. To mark the occasion, the PGA Tour is enacting one of the most backwards media policies in recent memory.
The PGA Tour sent an e-mail yesterday to members of the media telling them that any digital play by play would not only result in their press credentials being yanked, but also all credentials from other journalists working for that outlet. Also, you don't even have to be covering the event on-site to have your credentials pulled. Here's the threat via Golf.com…
"As you know, our media regulations prohibit the use of real-time, play-by-play transmission in digital outlets. In order to enforce these regulations, beginning this year, we will revoke the on-site credentials of all journalists affiliated with outlets that post play-by-play coverage, whether those posts are originating from tournament site or otherwise."
This is nothing but shortsighted and clueless. Does the PGA Tour really think Norm Macdonald tweeting this to his 350k plus followers hurts the game???
Tiger, to save a 68 now. and does
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) January 24, 2013
What are you going to do, PGA Tour, file a restraining order to keep Norm Macdonald from talking about and giving publicity to your sport? Are you going to bar everyone from Grantland or even ESPN from your grounds because of Norm Macdonald's tweets? In fact, I dare the PGA Tour to follow through on their threat and yank any and all press credentials from Norm Macdonald (if he even has them) and Grantland. Make a preemptive strike if you have to, because this is obviously unacceptable behavior. Then the PGA Tour can reap the benefits of all the "PGA vs Norm Macdonald" headlines that would arise and they can really see how forward thinking they truly are in protecting their brand and their interests.
Jason Sobel, formerly of ESPN and now at Golf Channel, is one of the best live bloggers in all of sports. Why should he have to "fight" to effectively do his job and inform and entertain your sport's fans?
Good talk with Ty Votaw today. Used the word "proprietary" a few times. Again, yesterday's decree nothing new. Been fighting this for years.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) January 25, 2013
With the outrage spawning over this heavy-handed decree, I can't imagine a world in which the PGA Tour sticks to this decision. If they do, they'd lose a significant number of fans and only push their sport further into the margins. Golf writer Stephanie Wei compared the PGA Tour to the Soviet Union in a blog post. Other writers openly mocked the tour's position. Still others derided the PGA Tour for being out of touch with reality and forwarding the "old white guy" stereotype.
The idea that journalists live tweeting play-by-play hurts the PGA Tour or its TV partners in any way is idiotic.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) January 25, 2013
Latest sports org run by old white guys clueless about today's world: The PGA Tour. Banning live Tweeting by media at tournaments. #dumb
— Joe Casale (@sportsJC16) January 25, 2013
PGA Tour will now "revoke" credentials of journos who post play-by-play. Are they completely unaware that social media HELPS their cause?
— Ashley Mayo (@AshleyKMayo) January 24, 2013
That single e-mail sent by the PGA Tour threatening journalists has done far more harm to themselves in less than 24 hours than all the play by play tweets that could ever be sent.
One problem the PGA Tour faces is how on earth do you enforce such a policy? What exactly constitutes "realtime play by play?" Live blogs? A certain number of tweets per hour? Can you provide commentary but not facts? Where exactly are the lines you can and can't cross here?
How do leagues and organizations like the PGA Tour not see that increased coverage and attention for their sport is a good thing in the social media age? Sports media and covering sports in 2013 is all about sharing. It's all about more transparency and more information at our fingertips than ever before. Is preserving a few extra hits to the PGA Tour website worth this kind of negative attention?
It befuddles me that the PGA Tour doesn't understand how to use social media as an ally and not an adversary. It angers me that the tour would try to inhibit reporters in doing their jobs. It frustrates me as a fan of the game because restricting digital access in the digital age does nothing but hurt golf.
I love the game of golf and I know the sport faces enough problems as it is in being accessible to the masses. This decision by the PGA Tour only enforces that reality.