Sunday, August 9

The SEC: Your Tax Dollars at Work

The Big Lead has detailed the SEC's "extremely restrictive new media policies" that states the Conference owns everything and even forbids fans from taking photos in the stadiums. To boot, fans are not supposed to share accounts or descriptions of the events. The first rule of the SEC, we don't talk about the SEC.

Is the SEC going to be policing sports bars looking for guys relaying tales of watching Tebow's wobbly jump pass? Will they attempt to drop the hammer on sports radio stations that discuss the game the following Monday? Could criticizing Tebow's game play land lowly bloggers like ourselves in the conference's new Gulag labor camps? The restrictions carry over to practices and press conferences, which would greatly restrict local stations ability to replay Les Miles' "Have a Good Day" presser or The Speech by Tebow. We could all probably do without seeing Tebow's speech once a week throughtout this season, but these policies exclude ESPN and CBS, so there will still plenty of time to memorize the most eloquent speech of the last 40 years.

All jokes aside, these restrictions on local coverage and fan activities should be struck down. With the exception of Vanderbilt, all of the SEC institutions are public. Tax payers have for years shelled out money to build these programs into the powerhouse conference that recently signed the largest TV contract ever for college athletics. These same taxpayers pony up to get into the games and have done so long before ESPN was even founded. The conference has grown because of the rabid following of their local constituents and these new policies serve only as a big F U to the people whose devotion built the SEC into the best in the land.

As public universities, the rules are (or should be) different. Not only are the schools beholden to the boosters, but also to the state. While the SEC scrapes and claws for every cent they can get, the universities gladly accept tax dollars annually for improvements to sports facilities in a time when many states are dealing with budget shortfalls. Allowing the local media outlets to use game footage does not impede the SEC's ability to make money, but this new policy could prove devastating to local sports media outlets, entities that are already struggling in a more streamlined global media marketplace. As Gordon Gecko famously said, "Greed is good," but at the heart of the SEC is eleven universities that are publicly funded and local lawmakers should be demanding that media outlets in their states be exempt from this policy. The schools and the conference owe it to the people that have funded this league from the beginning.

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