Sports Outside the Beltway

Blogger Tossed From NCAA Baseball Tourney

A reporter was tossed from the college baseball tournament for live-blogging a game.

A reporter was ejected from an NCAA baseball tournament game for submitting live Internet updates during play. Brian Bennett, a writer for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, was approached Sunday by an NCAA representative in the bottom of the fifth inning and told that blogging from an NCAA championship event is against NCAA policies.

Bennett had done live blogging during Louisville’s super regional games against Oklahoma State in the previous two games of the three-game series. The representative revoked Bennett’s credential Sunday and asked him to leave the game.

“It’s clearly a First Amendment issue,” said Bennie Ivory, the newspaper’s executive editor. “This is part of the evolution of how we present the news to our readers. It’s what we did during the Orange Bowl. It’s what we did during the NCAA basketball tournament. It’s what we do.” The newspaper’s lawyer, Jon L. Fleischaker, added: “I think there’s the potential for some action. We’re still talking about it.”

NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said Monday that Bennett was asked not to blog about game action before Sunday’s game. “In a nutshell, we asked the blogger repeatedly not to cover it in that manner, because it violates the policy, and he continued, and his credential was revoked,” Williams said.

Ivory is right that, in the Internet age, people expect information instantaneously. The NCAA policy here is swimming against the tide and, given how little interest there is in college baseball compared to other sports, pretty short-sighted.

That said, it’s simply idiotic to proclaim this a First Amendment issue. The government isn’t censoring the press here. Rather, a business is making a decision about how to control access to a private good. They have every right to do that.

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