The University of Akron is holding a “Social Media Night” when they host Ohio in a nationally-televised game Saturday night. There will be hastags on the floor (#theplacetobe #GoZips#ThinkBigger), but the NCAA has swooped in and made sure the team didn’t make the huge mistake of adding the Men’s Basketball Twitter handle (@ZipsMBB) on the backs of the jerseys.
Why, you ask, was this averted? Who knows. The NCAA rules enforcement is known for little more than their capricious rulings on this sort of thing. Is it against the rules? Probably of one rule or another, but why step in and enforce this particular item? Well, the company who adds the name plates to the game jerseys made the grievous error of verifying that it was OK to do.
The school had sent out 12 personalized jerseys to media, with their own twitter handles on the back. The media was talking about the team. (Not here, where we were strangely left out of the jersey bonanza. @sportslogosnet or @JRFrancisSLN would look great on the back of a jersey. Any team’s jersey, really. Hint.) The Zips, having a great season but largely undercovered by the media has found a way to get the word out, to get writers talking about them. But the NCAA found a way to step on the necks of the people trying to have fun, very NFL-style.
The special jerseys followed the latest trend in basketball jerseys: looking like hockey sweaters. One big logo at the center has be prevalent in quite a few designs lately, and Akron is set to wear a huge Z logo on the front, for the Zips.
But why should we get upset about the NCAA stomping on the roach that is “fun” in basketball. Rules are rules, right? We can’t all of a sudden allow them to do whatever they want on the backs of their jerseys, right?
Quite cool that Kevin Service, Dan Integrity, John Duty, and Chris Service all happened to be standing next to each other in this still from a video clip after the Wyoming versus UNLV football game from 2012 to honor the military. Oh, that is not the players’ names? Its another gimmick that the NCAA allowed? Well, surely this was on accident.
Oh, so John Duty plays on both teams? No, this is another one of those games where the names were replaced by patriotic terms. Boston College this time, against Maryland. OK, well, this is football. Perhaps the rules enforcement is different between the sports.
The Don’t Ever Give Up triplets, Jim, James, and Jimmy, play smothering D on the UConn ball handler. Oh, nope, this is another promotion, a one-time game where NC State wore nets around their necks and Jimmy Valvano’s famous saying on their backs. So, this trend even occurs in basketball.
Sure, the examples about are all positive messages, and the Zips were attempting a publicity push. But is that really the difference? I’m sure the NCAA will have their ticky-tacky, specific, pedantic subset of a bylaw ready to quote for everyone that says something to let them ban the twitter handle. Maybe its like a password to a simple account, it can’t have a special character.
Whatever the reason, the NCAA blew this call. Let’s hope the refs have a better game.