Sports Outside the Beltway

U.S. Open Tennis officials issue twitter warning

The final grand slam event of 2009 begins next Monday. From AP-

Watch what you tweet.

That’s the message tennis authorities are delivering as the U.S. Open gets set to start Monday, telling players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Twitter.

Signs are being posted in the players’ lounge, locker rooms and referee’s office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with the header: “Important. Player Notice. Twitter Warning.”

The signs, written by the Tennis Integrity Unit, point out that Twitter messages could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules.

“Many of you will have Twitter accounts in order for your fans to follow you and to become more engaged in you and the sport — and this is great,” the notices read. “However popular it is, it is important to warn you of some of the dangers posted by Twittering as it relates to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program Rules.”

Sports leagues and governing bodies are paying close attention as more and more athletes turn to Twitter to reach fans directly; some NFL teams, for example, urged players not to use it. But tennis appears to be the first sport openly concerned about Twitter’s possible effect on gambling.

Based on stories like this and this, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about gambling on tennis matches and the possibility the sport could have its integrity compromised. Inside information, like whether a player is nursing a minor injury, would be valuable to gamblers.

The signs at the U.S. Open say tweeting is not allowed on court during matches. They also warn about using Twitter away from the court, saying sending “certain sensitive information concerning your match or other matches and/or players should be avoided. Depending on the information sent out this could be determined as the passing of ‘inside information.”

The messages define that as “information about the likely participation or likely performance of a player in an event or concerning the weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event which is known by a Covered Person and is not information in the public domain.”

The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.

Do Tennis authorities have the right to enforce twitter rules on anyone but players and tournament staff? Rather than setting rules on what and what can’t be tweeted, the sport is probably hoping people just be prudent about what they tweet.

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My guess is that they can set just about any conditions they want for those in attendance at games. A ticket is a conditional contract.

Posted by James Joyner | August 29, 2009 | 06:39 am | Permalink

I think that social networking sites should be allowed to be used by tennis players to let their fans know how they are feeling before and after a game. I’ve been following the US Open on facebook through Prince Tennis ( and it has been great especially the trivia questions! Its been great testing my Tennis IQ and finding out how the players are doing!

Posted by Ailish | September 9, 2009 | 04:14 pm | Permalink

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