If you follow technology news long enough and you’ll be imbued with a sense of wonder at how quickly most things technology-related progress. Social media rollouts blaze ahead and become dominant quickly. The specs inside our machines continue to balloon. Brand new tech comes out and is adopted by the younger generations with an ease that seems downright impossible. Companies, because they have to, embrace the speed of new technology as well. Everything is faster, more content-rich. It seems the early adopters these days are big corporations eager to gain an edge through the technology the public already is or soon will be using.
Which brings me to this question: have ya’ll heard of Twitter? Yes, yes, I figured that you have, but I’d like to know whether any of you Tweeps out there happen to know anybody at the National Football League? Because they seem to think that Twitter is a thing that can be controlled when it comes to the NFL draft. It’s been a couple of years since I first laughed at the NFL for forcing ESPN and the NFL Network, two of its broadcasting partners, to agree not to tweet draft picks before they were announced on television. Two years later, a lifetime in technological progress terms, and the NFL is stilll doing this, apparently.
ESPN and NFL Network both have rights to televise the NFL draft, and, as they have in the past, this year they will show the good and just Roger Goodell that they value the product he’s bestowed upon them by not allowing their reporters to tweet picks before the commissioner announces them at the podium. That NFL Network agrees to this makes sense. (It has no choice, since it’s a glorified PR channel for the league.) What’s ESPN’s excuse?
Well, some of us argue that ESPN has nothing to do with news and is instead a self-marketing institution built on the leagues for which it broadcasts. To that end, the “journalists” are actually marketing agents, doing the bidding of the ultimate customer, the leagues, including the NFL. Taken at face value, the agreement for ESPN reporters to refuse to tweet out much-sought information they’ve obtained is an abdication of any journalistic ethics they might pretend to have.
But the larger question is: who does the NFL think they’re fooling? After all, this scheme would work wonders to control information about draft picks…if Twitter users only followed NFL Network and ESPN employees. That isn’t how this works as a sports fan, of course, meaning that anyone who wants to get quicker information on the draft will certainly have it. That renders this whole exercise pretty damned meaningless for the NFL.