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The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Sat. Aug 21, 2004

Thou Shalt Not Blog

One of the biggest surprises of these Olympics has been the lack of interest. The lack of attendance. The lack of excitement off the field. The IOC has long attempted to squeeze the life out of things before they even begin, and try to control things they don’t even understand. In the Information Age, they have so many more opportunities to step in it up to their knees.

Not long ago I wrote Olympic Blogging Comes of Age. I was oh-so-wrong.

The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites. An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.

The IOC’s rationale for the restrictions is that athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists—and that the interests of broadcast rightsholders and accredited media come first.

Participants in the games may respond to written questions from reporters or participate in online chat sessions — akin to a face-to-face or telephone interview — but they may not post journals or online diaries, blogs in Internet parlance, until the Games end August 29.

The Olympic guidelines threaten to yank credentials from athletes who are in violation as well as to impose other sanctions or take legal action for any monetary damages. But the official said the IOC has yet to take any action against an athlete.

CNN.com: “Olympians largely barred from blogging”

First, it’s notable that the IOC believes not only that “athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists,” but also that the simple act of blogging would breach that barrier. Ergo, bloggers are journalists. It’s an Olympic decree.

If these athletes blogged, they wouldn’t be getting attention because they were engaging in journalism, they’d be getting attention because they were athletes, doing something that millions of individuals do … publish their thoughts on the web. To say that publishing on the web makes an Olympic athlete a “journalist” is as absurd as saying that putting an experienced sportswriter on the Olympic track makes them a sprinter. It is skill, training, and experience that makes a journalist, or a sprinter … not the medium.

But this is the Naked Admission of these games; when it comes to the desires of the athletes … “the interests of broadcast rightsholders and accredited media come first.

After all, that’s why everyone assembled in Athens at a cost of billions of dollars. To put on a Big TeeVee Show, and fill that empty space between the ads … on TV, online, and in print. The athletes are just unionized players following a script on the IOC stage, and if their feelings and experiences are to be revealed to the world, it will By God be controlled by the IOC. Or by those that pay the IOC.

To do otherwise might damage the Olympic brand. Even more than sea upon sea of empty seats. And if any athlete dare challenge the Olympic Gods by blogging, those Gods will “yank credentials from athletes … as well as to impose other sanctions or take legal action…” (Gosh, wouldn’t you love to see some athlete call their bluff?). These “IOC Gods” are apparently from the angry vengeful Old Testament mold. Even worse, as they not only smite, they sanction and litigate. The Brand shall not be blasphemed or tarnished by such individual Internet tomfoolery.

Unless…

Unless the athlete already had a web site they didn’t set up specifically for the Games. Then it’s all good.

All powerful, yet arbitrary. Capricious. Arrogant, behind the times, ill informed, and often acting on a whim. It’s no wonder the Ancient Gods were cast aside centuries ago. But can anyone explain why we were left with these craven imitations of them, the IOC?

Later, from Ed Cone: “Doesn’t the IOC have some seats to be selling in Athens, or at least some bribe money to tally up, instead of finding ways to make itself even less likable?

And Dan Gillmor: “This is about greed, nothing more and nothing less. It is about the historically corrupt International Olympic Committee’s desire to please the giant media organizations to which it has sold “rights” to tell and show the world what is happening [...] I hope athletes break this rule right and left. I also hope that they declare independence someday from the cynical and corrupt organizations that have run international sports for so long. The games are about the athletes, or should be.


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