In light of recent international sports coverage, journalism professionals are clashing with sports organizations about whether they have the right to limit coverage of their sporting events.
In July, when the Pan American Games start in Brazil, thousands of top athletes will engage in a myriad of sporting contests. But their freedom will be limited to tell about it. Blogging is prohibited, not only for the athletes, but their doctors, coaches and even massage therapists.
Another example involved local TV news crews being banned by the NFL from covering games from the sidelines.
The blanket ban on personal journalism, "The New York Times" reported, affects some 7000 people during two weeks of competition ending July 29 in Rio de Janeiro. The rule, the newspaper said, reflects a growing trend among international sports institutions to impose rigid controls over the online use of game information and photographs.
A similar dispute broke out last February between the International Rugby Board and the World Association of Newspapers. It involves restrictions that will be imposed during the Rugby World Cup to begin in Paris this September.
In return for press credentials to cover the Rugby Cup, the rugby board is limiting the number of game photos that can be published in online news sites during competition. It is also requiring that headlines not be superimposed over photographs, a rule aimed at protecting corporate sponsors such as Heineken and Toshiba.
The dispute appears to be about money. Executives of the Rugby Cup argue that they are guarding potential revenue during an expansion period for the sport.
Critics have argued that sports institutions are seizing power to manage their public images.
Last year, the World Association of Newspapers also successfully challenged FIFA, the international soccer association, by approaching top sponsors to complain about proposed restrictions on the use of game photos. It's a tactic the association may also pursue in the current dispute with rugby officials.
Under pressure from broadcasters and sympathetic state legislators, the NFL has recently loosened its policy banning local TV news crews from sidelines. The reversal came during league meetings last month in Phoenix.
The new rule will allow up to 10 video crews on the field, five from the local market and five from the market of the visiting team, according to the Radio Television News Directors Association (RTNDA).
Legislation that would assure access to games in publicly funded stadiums has been introduced in state legislatures in Michigan, Missouri and Arizona.