MICHELE NORRIS, host:
The finals of college baseball's World Series begin tomorrow. And the teams are the same as last year - defending champion Oregon State and defending runner-up North Carolina. But much of the talk of the event has surrounded something that happened off the field. A reporter was kicked out of the game for blogging from the press box.
Stefan Fatsis of The Wall Street Journal joins us now, as he does most Fridays. Hi, Stefan.
Mr. STEFAN FATSIS (Sports Reporter, The Wall Street Journal): Hi, Michele.
NORRIS: Now, that offending blogger, he was a young reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal. What exactly did he do?
Mr. FATSIS: Well, what he did was post live updates from the press box during a qualifying game for the College World Series between the University of Louisville and Oklahoma State last week. Now, the NCAA a few days earlier had warned members of the media that play-by-play blogging was prohibited because it violated the rights of the event's official media partners, in this case ESPN on TV and CBS SportsLine, which manages the NCAA's Web site. And the NCAA says it asked the reporter, Brian Bennett, several times to stop blogging during the game. And when he didn't, it revoked his credential and kicked him out of the stadium.
NORRIS: Now, wouldn't the NCAA want to encourage more attention, bring more attention to its events? Don't reporter watch games on TV and offer a running play-by-play all the time.
Mr. FATSIS: Yeah, they do. I mean, live blogs have become a staple of the Internet by reporters and non-reporters. And the good ones merge some game detail with humor and analysis. The one in Louisville, frankly, was pretty factual and dull. It went something like this: Louisville grabs a one-nothing lead with one out in the bottom of the first. It's eight-nothing cards with two outs in the ninth.
And The Courier-Journal said it's a First Amendment issue. That once a play happens, this is news and we can do whatever we want with it. The NCAA might look short-sighted here, because college sports that aren't basketball or football, as you said, really can't afford to turn down this kind of attention.
But the bigger issue is that - is a question: Is a live, play-by-play blog equivalent to the broadcast of an event? Regardless of whether you do it from the press box, or the newsroom, or in your living room. And does it infringe on the rights of the companies that pay hundreds of millions of dollars, in some cases, to show these games? And legally, it might.
NORRIS: So if this is a First Amendment quandary, it sounds like this is a question that will have to be resolved in the courts.
Mr. FATSIS: It might, if it gets that far. But I think that sports organizations are going to try to really figure out how to accommodate new media. This is a whole new thing for sports and for teams and for news organizations.
The NBA, the National Basketball Association, has allowed reporters to live-blog from arenas. The NFL says it permits time-delayed and limited reporting from the press box. In hockey, the New York Islanders are creating a blog box next season for bloggers for a few games. And the question is whether we're going to see live-blogging rights sold to media companies right alongside TV rights someday. The NCAA action suggest to me that that might happen.
NORRIS: Now, before we let you go, one other piece of sports Internet news. Yahoo this week announced it would pay about a hundred million dollars for a site known as Rivals.com. This deal didn't get a lot of attention. But Stefan, I take, you think it's significant.
Mr. FATSIS: I do. There's enormous competition online for serious sports fans. ESPN, Yahoo and FOX are the leaders right there - in that category right now. Rivals is a site for college football and basketball junkies, news and chat about every blip in high school recruiting. It gets about two million visitors a month. And on big days, it gets enormous traffic.
Buying this site gives Yahoo a built-in community of diehards. And it gives it an edge over the competitors in terms of fantasy sports and these hardcore college sports fans. This is a serious revenue source in terms of advertising and subscription. And you're going to - it's going to be interesting to see how ESPN and FOX respond.
NORRIS: Thanks, Stefan. Have a fabulous weekend.
Mr. FATSIS: Thanks a lot, Michele.
NORRIS: That's Wall Street Journal sports reporter Stefan Fatsis. He talks with us on Fridays about sports and the business of sports.
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