Consider the following story:
RALEIGH, N.C. -- College sports fans, be careful of the company you keep on Facebook.
You might get yourself -- and the program you support -- in trouble.
That was the lesson this week for Taylor Moseley, a North Carolina State freshman who expressed a common-enough opinion on campus when he started the Facebook group called "John Wall PLEASE come to NC STATE!!!!"
More than 700 people signed up for the group encouraging Wall -- a local standout and the nation's No. 1 basketball recruit -- to pick the Wolfpack by national signing day next week.
But the NCAA says such sites, and dozens more like them wooing Wall and other top recruits, violate its rules. More than just cheerleading boards, the NCAA says the sites are an attempt to influence the college choice of a recruit.
Sometimes, the NCAA just confounds. It profits immensely from the interest generated by gambling on its sports, yet its president takes the time last week to nationally admonish Ty Lawson -- who is 21 years old -- for visiting a Detroit area craps table during the Final Four. The NCAA signs television contracts worth tens of billions of dollars based solely off of the entertainment labor it gets from student athletes for literally pennies on the dollar, yet tells those same students that they are not allowed to profit from their own labor, lest they be denied the means to their own education.
For its part, the NCAA's representative says the organizations rules are "technology neutral" -- really just an ignorant way of saying their rules are archaic and don't address the nuances and challenges of technology -- and that their main concern is "intrusions into a high school student's life when they're trying to decide where to go to college."
Has this guy ever been to Facebook? (Forget I asked that question.) Since when is a Facebook group an intrusion into anyone's life?
The troubling part of this for me is twofold. First is the free speech issue, which a lawyer raises in the story; second is the regulation of speech like this. It's one thing to regulate the speech of employees; aside from the legal questions it raises, it's whole 'nother thing altogether to try and regulate the speech of everyone who is a fan of your program.
Consider this just another in a long line of contradictions from the NCAA -- trying to squash the very kind of fan interest that drives up the revenues that make everyone (other than they athletes) pretty rich.
I guess I shouldn't have sent that Facebook note to Xavier Thames asking him to stay, huh?