Tragedy of Our Times: The Olympics' Befuddling, Restrictive Social Media Rules

One would think, with the Vancouver Olympics set to lose NBC $250 million and financially gut the city, that the dominant topic of this Olympics might be how to preserve the financial viability of the whole enterprise. One would be wrong. It's all about whether or not athletes can blog.

Wired has a story that explains some of the issue, but what it boils down to is this: athletes can blog in any way they see fit, from Twitter to Facebook to, I don't know, Xanga, but they must be athletes and not journalists. Wait, what?

In the IOC Blogging Guidelines (PDF), there is a note that says athletes must keep their postings "confined solely to their own personal Olympic-related experience." The document also stipulates that blogs "should not contain any interviews with, or stories about, other" Olympic athletes.

Basically, it means that media companies, mostly NBC, retain the sole right to interview Olympians, and that all of the interesting stories from the Olympic Village will have to be first-person. Given the slim chances that any Olympic athlete would jeopardize their chance to compete by relaying a first-person account of the salacious stuff widely acknowledged to be part of the Olympic experience, it seems we will go another Olympiad without anything remotely interesting being reported from within that enclave. And the "social" part of social media? Forget it.

This is a blow to anyone who has grown tired of the NBC mythmaking, and a missed opportunity for the IOC to treat its athletes like grown-ups who occasionally talk to other people. But yes, Lindsey Vonn, you will be able to tweet. Good luck building a fan base that will last past these Olympics with only your own accounts of the competition. I know I was hanging on every word Michael Phelps blogged about himself in 2008.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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