Problems that Arise

The main problems that have arisen for these sites are the lack of ability to find the equal access that other news organizations enjoy. The sites themselves have presented problems for the legitimate sites and the athletic institutions as well.

The University of Florida recently was forced to change their practice philosophies in football because of several Internet sites, which were not tied to a printed publication and did not have the air of authenticity that ESPN.com or another such site had.

Florida head coach Steve Spurrier closed his practices to the media following the discovery that people were viewing his practices as fans and then running home and placing the information they learned in practice and what they saw on the Internet where anyone could access it. (Humenik, 2000)

Spurrier was angry, but the media was upset as well. Websites who had no method for holding people accountable for what they posted on the site had disrupted the flow of information to the press and created a headache for the athletic department itself. It also is ideal for illustrating how difficult it is to control the flow of information on the Internet.

Reporters are also forced to try to keep up with the websites. News organizations have to spend time answering questions from people who saw information posted on a chat site, and want to know why the information has not been reported in the newspaper. Or even why they haven't pursued it as a news organization.

In the summer of 1998 the Daily Mississippian, the student publication at the University of Mississippi, was forced to contend with a wave of information and flood of phone calls that bombarded their office concerning ticket sales and for the upcoming football season based on rumors that were circulating on the Internet. (Daily Mississippian, 1998) It's a troubling problem to have to deal with fact in the press, but chase rumors to find out if they are fact of fiction.

The other problem that has arisen for athletic officials is the lack of space at sporting events and contractual agreements with sites. The University of Florida, because of its successful football program, receives hundreds of media requests to attend home games from news organizations. Many of them are legitimate, and many more certainly feel they are legitimate, but it is a tough decision for the athletic officials when it comes to handing out credentials and allowing access.

The University has trouble dealing with people who submit request as a representative of a "garage site" and have no more journalistic integrity than many would consider the National Enquirer as having. The sites themselves feel they are legitimate, but do they deserve the spot over ESPN.com?

Contractual agreements with some Internet sites, which post live updated stats throughout the game in real time, prevent other online sites from receiving access. The site with the rights is the only one that can post information live and therefore restricts the access of other online outlets. It leads to confrontation and problems for athletic departments. The University of Florida as adopted a policy of not allowing online sites into the press box for games except for the one contracted to update the site or a few select sites tied to media outlets like CBS. (Humenik, 2000; Foley, 2000)