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NCAA Bans On-Field Hashtags And Social Media URLs

Twitter has been a major player in the college sports industry in recent years, with athletes connecting directly and passionately with fans (Kevin Ware, anyone?), spectators turning to tweets for live coverage and analysis, and experts wielding their influence in 140-character missives.

But a new memo from the NCAA’s Football Rules Committee puts the kibosh on the use of all social media designations on college football fields, drawing a definitive line between live sports and social media.

As reported by Mashable, the first on-field hashtag appeared in the endzone at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium in November 2011.

A year and a half later, on-field hashtags have become pretty commonplace in the college football world. Until now.

The memo states, after detailing the on-field markings that are still kosher (NCAA logo, Conference logo, College/university name and logo, Team name and logo, Commercial sponsors),

“All other items, including social media designations such as URL’s and hashtags, are prohibited.”

Hashtags on scoreboards or stadiums are still ok.

It seems confusing that the NCAA would put such a hard and fast limit on a major modern marketing tactic, especially considering Twitter’s massive influence on TV viewers. People watching a college football game on TV could see a hashtag painted on the field, tweet something related to the game or team, and be automatically sharing that information (free advertising!) with potentially thousands of people.

But – guess not.

Side note: seems like NCAA found the need to clarify that it is not banning hashtags entirely (which would be impossible…), but rather only prohibiting their expression on college football fields.

Doesn’t the fact that that needed to be clarified kind of underscore the ridiculousness of this new rule?

What do you think about the NCAA banning on-field social media URLs and hashtags when everyone else is increasing the presence of these tactics?

(Image via athlonsports.com)

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