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Question of the day: Is it right for the NFL and other leagues to be able to fine players for what and when they tweet? [Updated]

August 25, 2010 |  9:54 am

Reporters from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day, vote in our poll and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Chris Korman, Baltimore Sun

We all long ago stopped believing the athlete-as-gladiator myth, right? Sure, the scene in an NFL locker room before a game may be tense, full of teeth-gritting and praying. And though the players will face great physical risk, they also make a living – and a lucrative one – playing a game. They are, ultimately, entertainers.

So let them tweet. Before, during and after games.

Twitter has given athletes an avenue to spout unfiltered clichés while abusing caps-lock keys and bum-rushing the rules of grammar. But occasionally a glimmer of what allows them to accomplish the unimaginable makes it through, and fans must not be deprived of that.

Imagine Drew Brees taking to his cellphone after a particularly sublime throw and explaining how he moved the safety with his eyes. Or LeBron James reflecting on his late-game decision-making in a close game.

Well, maybe some things do deserve a fine.

[Updated at 1:59 p.m.:

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

We all know the NFL can be a little stuffy and stodgy at times, but the league is within its right to legislate against outlaw tweeters. As a rule, the NFL should look the other way on most tweets. Players certainly should not be twittering during their games, however. They also should use good judgment in terms of what they are tweeting.

Upholding the image of the NFL is part of the responsibility of every player. Whether players are putting themselves in a negative light with their words, their actions or their tweets, it’s a problem. So if Ocho Cinco steps out of line again, it’s OK to call the tweet police.]

[Updated at 12:28 p.m.:

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

Of course the NFL should be able to fine players for what and when they post something on Twitter. Playing professional football isn’t an inalienable right, it’s a privilege. And the league -– like a private club -– can lay down reasonable rules to protect its product.

That said, it should be the individual clubs in most cases, and not league headquarters, issuing the fines. For the most part, the NFL can and does recognize many forms of social media as effective marketing tools. If a player wants to Tweet from the sideline during a game, let the club deal with that. If a player wants to reveal some closely guarded team secret or break a piece of news, again allow the club to police that.

It’s a safe bet that the traditionally successful franchises will put an end to that nonsense quicker than Chad Ochocinco can type OCNN.]

[Updated at 11:59 a.m.:

Ethan J. Skolnick, South Florida Sun Sentinel

What is this, anyway? Isn't it supposed to be entertainment? When did sports start taking itself so seriously, that leagues feel the need to restrict the free flow of fun information?

If teams want to set their own individual rules about social media, based on each's own particular, twisted view of what might embarrass the franchise or put it at some sort of competitive disadvantage, then they should be allowed to do so. But the league imposing such rules, so often arbitrarily? That makes less sense.

Yes, the NFL is a business. So is Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Assn. But there was a time they were in the business of promoting their players' personalities, providing more access and fun for the fans. Now they're in the boring business of paranoia.]

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