Thursday, July 19, 2007

Okay, this has nothing to do with KUJH, persay...

But, it is becoming abundantly clear that sports leagues and teams are really crossing the line when it comes to limiting the access of media outlets.

I'm sure we're all well aware of the banning of local television outlets on the field of NFL games, the NCAA kicking out a Courier-Journal blogger from a post-season baseball game in Louisville and media websites banned from running more than 45 seconds of interviews with NFL players and coaches. Frankly, the list is quite long now, and there is no sign that we will not keep adding to it.

In fact, this just in from the Wall Street Journal, photographers at NFL games will now have to serve as walking billboards for the league by wearing NFL Shield and Canon logo emblazoned vests during the games. Included in the article is a bit about NASCAR trying to demand ownership of all photos taken during races.

Consider this my call to arms. I think it is high time that media outlets started standing up to the bullying tactics of sports leagues. For one thing, most professional and college teams play in tax-payer subsidized facilities. When a community shells out millions of dollars so football players can have a spacious locker room, the community should expect complete access to said locker room in the form of reporter accounts and video interviews.

Citizens pay taxes to help subsidize stadia and practice facilities that millionaire owners could easily afford to pay for out-of-pocket. If owners continue to approach communities with an open hand, the least they can do is open the door for complete coverage of their product.

And, while college sports is not exactly in the same boat, there are no millionaire owners, just millionaire programs, pretty much all on-campus facilities are provided for in some way by the government and by taxes paid to the state by the likes of you and me. Therefore, college athletic departments should be even more open about what takes place on a public school campus. Obviously, this is a flawed example, because under my guidelines, a school like Duke, could shut-off all media contact given their private school status. However, Duke has a decent basketball team (from what I hear) and occasionally plays in tax-supported arenas, generally about half the season. So, private schools should be held to the same standards that I'm demanding here.

Okay, I'm calming down now, and I realize this is probably not what Bieke had envisioned for this site, but I just had to get that off my chest. I fear that for sports minded KUJH-ers graduating in the next couple of years will find themselves even more blocked by the likes of the NFL, NCAA and the MLB. It is a slippery slope we face, and the time for an ultimate showdown may not be far away.

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