Social Media Ban Or Protecting the Media That Pays Your Bills?

The National Hockey League and its so-called partner the National Hockey League Player’s Association have come to an agreement on social media.  Officially, both sides have decided to limit or even shut down the use of social media on game days. 

“In addition to suggested guidelines and tips around use of decorum and protection of sensitive information, the key mandate is around game days and blacking out certain windows of time.”

In truth, this is a ban on the use of twitter.  What NHL player uses their Facebook page or foursquare for anything anymore?  Players may not tweet or use social media from two hours before the puck drop until after all their media requirements have been fulfilled post-game.

So, is the NHL banning its players from tweeting because they are worried about players talking about strategy or secret plays?  Are they worried about players giving each other and opposition teams bulletin board fodder?  Are they worried about players setting up fights in advance?

No, absolutely not.  The NHL and the NHLPA get a chunk, if not most, of their revenue from the media contracts they have signed.  The television and radio rights drive each teams’ profits.  Newspapers and publications are owned by the same major corporations that own the rest of the media.    Money comes in from all these platforms and the NHL continues to sign bigger and bigger deals.

The NHL has no deal with twitter.  No money comes in from twitter.  Instead of P.K. Subban doing a pre-game interview with Elliotte Friedman on the CBC, why couldn’t he just share his thoughts on his twitter page?  Wouldn’t he get to a larger audience doing it that way?

So, now you see my argument and why I am enraged at this new policy.  The NHL and the NHLPA have been warned by its partners in the media.  They want to restrict access to the players for themselves before, during and after the games.  They paid for it and they want it. 

I guarantee that if you compare what a player says in an interview on television or radio with what he will share on twitter, you will get a totally different point of view.  It will be an honest statement about what he is feeling at that moment or about what just happened.

The NHL and NHLPA are trying to make us believe that all of its player are dumb.  They are making us believe that a player might talk about who is in or out of the line up or how they will attack the opposing team's defence core.  The league is dumbing down its own players.  Of course no one would tweet anything that would jeopardize their team chances at wining or tweet anything that should stay in the locker room.

I could go into how I feel about unions and the lack of freedom of speech in sports but that’s for another day.  The ban on social media or should I say twitter has all to do with money.  Why should a player sit on his bike and give the same inane answers to post game questions?  Why can’t he sit in the locker room and apologize for the way he played to his fans on twitter? 

It’s about the bottom line.  It’s about keeping the NHL and the NHLPA’s media partners happy.  It’s about keeping the money rolling in and it is not about keeping the players happy.  It’s about making sure the players have absolutely no personality or connection to the fans. 

Every league is instituting its own policies similar to the NHL and the NHLPA’s but that doesn’t make it right.  All the league wants is clones playing the game to keep revenues flowing for the league and its’ owners. 

If Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots, goes out and says:

“Start drinking early, get nice and rowdy.  It’s a 4:15 game.  There is lots of time to get lubed up.”

A PR guy comes out and says Brady didn’t mean that and it was taken out of context.  Just imagine what the NHL would have done if that was tweeted by a player?  Just ask Sean Avery what happens when you speak your mind and have some sort of personality.

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Shahab Khan the Schoolboy


George Prax's picture

I can tell you first hand that things are said on twitter that should likely be kept to ourselves at times, whether that's just sounding off or revealing things about games they shouldn't, and if the media paid for interview time with players then they have that right. Frankly I care about Pacioretty's tweets about how much he liked Hall Pass as much as I care about his post-game interview where he says the same three talking points he says after every game. I really don't know if this is such a big deal.