I love following athletes on Twitter. At its best, you get (what feels like) intimate access to their lives, which is really fun if you're a sports fan. Plus, some athletes are genuinely funny. At its worst, you get guys like Rashard Mendenhall mouthing off about 9/11 and Osama bin Laden.
I'll stop, as that could go on for a while. The point is, professional sports organizations have attempted to reign in the social media activity by instituting polices that a.) usually black out certain times as "social media free" and b.) spell out generic quality guidelines that keep athletes from saying things that reflect poorly upon the league.
Whether or not you agree with the social media restrictions, you have to admit that the league has an interest in doing so.
It appears the the NHL has become the latest major sports organization to institute one of these social media policies.
According to a release on NHL.com, the new policy will bar players and "operations staff" from posting during a certain window surrounding games. It also makes the same generic claims that we've seen before about holding players responsible for their communications, even when on their own time.
From the release -
The policy, the NHL Social Media Policy for League and Club Personnel, governs both players and hockey operations staff and is designed to promote the value of social media as a tool for communication with fans. It also highlights issues surrounding social media, as well as limits the use of social media by players and hockey operations staff on game days.
As per the new policy, there is a total "blackout period" on the use of social media on game days, which for players begins two hours prior to opening face-off and is not lifted until players have finished their post-game media obligations. The suggested blackout period for hockey operations staff is longer, beginning at 11 a.m. on game days.
Also, the new policy makes it clear that players and club personnel will be be held responsible for their social communications in the same manner in which they are held responsible for other forms of public communications. As a result, discipline is possible for any social media statements that have or are designed to have an effect prejudicial to the welfare of the League, the game of hockey or a member club, or are publicly critical of officiating staff.
A couple of players have put their opinion out on Twitter -
People asking about NHL's new policy on Twitter. I think its good. I don't even play much and I don't tweet on game days. Plenty of off days
The new NHL policy went into effect last night.
The NFL's social media policy, which was implemented in 2009, is pretty similar to this new NHL policy. Players, coaches and staff are not allowed to tweet or Facebook post within 90 minutes of kickoff or until post-game interviews are complete.
NBA's social media policy shortens the pre-game window to 45 minutes and includes halftime as a banned period. It allows for individual teams to make their own determinations involving additional guidelines.