Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Idiot Kent State Athletic Director

Recently, Kent State Athletic Director Laing Kennedy banned campus athletes from the using social networking site Facebook. Criticism forced Kennedy to back off a complete ban. Now only approved friends are allowed on Facebook.com (those not approved must be blocked) and coaches must be given access. Kennedy claimed he was "concerned" about the protecting athletes, especially against those "hangers-on, gamblers and agents" who could use a Facebook friendship to compromise eligibility. That's really unlikely, but it is only going to happen if the athlete wants it to happen. It has nothing to do with Facebook or social networking technology itself.

Let's face it. The major concern is the image of the athletics program -- which at Kent State is tied into making money -- not the protection of the students.

For example, at the University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt had someone from his staff surf the sites (what a great use of state money), leading Richt to have some players take down items that could be viewed negatively. Richt claimed the action was for the players' protection.

At Louisiana State, two swimmers, Matt Coenen and Eddie Kenney, were kicked off the team for complaining about the coach.

I played sports in college and know that being part of a sports team is a privilege and not a right.

But, free speech *is* a right, and not one that athletes should be forced to give up at the locker room door. And that's what is happening at Kent State. Georgia, LSU and a number of other places -- athletes are having their free speech rights seriously curtailed, all in the name of money.

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