The NBA has followed the NFL’s lead yet again this week. The trolling that has entertained basketball fans and social media followers for the past few years is coming to an end as the NBA issues social media guidelines restricting what teams can say (whether in jest or in seriousness) on their social media platforms. But the real problem is, why do these professional leagues want to ruin the fun for the fans?
During the NBA Playoffs last year, we saw the escalation of Twitter wars between teams when the Houston Rockets tweeted a horse emoji with a gun emoji next to it saying, “Shhhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over soon” during their final game against the Dallas Mavericks. This may have been a little too aggressive to tweet during a game, but that doesn’t mean that the trash talking has to end entirely. The memo sent this week prohibits teams and players from engaging in social media that could essentially offend an opponent or official and any sort of criticism of NBA officiating. Silencing these fiery tweets takes the fun out of competition and rivalry. Trash talk is just part of the game, but recently teams have taken it too far to where it borders on inappropriate. The NBA is edgier than the overly-regulated NFL, but now it seems that they are trying to control social media messages concerning their brand, just like their football counterparts did in the fall.
About a month into the NFL season, an overarching memo was sent to every team dictating that teams who posted any sort of moving image during games would be subject to hefty fines. This restricts any video footage from the NFL or original content from the teams themselves, as well as any sort of GIF usage that may be entirely unrelated to the NFL. The control that the league attempts to have over its teams continues to grow every season, but this communication mandate particularly dampens the fan interaction with games. Perhaps the NFL wants fans to be watching the game instead of watching clips of it on Twitter in an effort to boost falling TV viewership, but the lack of engagement on social media may end up being more of a hindrance.
Social media for professional sports teams is supposed to increase fan interest by keeping them updated on the team is doing, while also being entertaining. Trash talk and humor are an integral part of the game. This is the fun part that keeps fans who have never touched a football or basketball before in their lives engaged. People love the game, but they also love the story behind it. These restrictions from two of the country’s most highly followed leagues on what teams can and can’t say on their own platforms takes away part of the story element and personal connection fans look for today. And most importantly, your favorite teams are boring now.
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