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Thursday, October 11, 2012
The best NCAA rule of 2012

By Eamonn Brennan

The NCAA does its best. It really does.

Whatever you think of the idea of amateur athletics -- or the incredibly strict and arguably outdated definition of the term the NCAA uses to justify its continued existence -- there's no question the people in Indianapolis are trying. And their jobs are hardly easy.

This applies to most every facet of the NCAA, but I'm thinking specifically of the way the organization is evolving its rules to keep up with sociocultural trends brought about by technological progress. It is slowly but surely realizing that the days of landlines and uncontrollable phone bills are over, that every 15-year-old has a smartphone, that texting isn't all that different from Facebook messaging or Twitter DMs or any other keep-in-touch application you can download on your phone.

But there are still areas in which the NCAA is lagging behind. I'm speaking, of course, about Instagram, and about the answer the organization provided in this educational column to the question of whether coaches can use the popular photo-sharing application in the course of recruiting:
Question: May a coach take a photo and use software (e.g., Instagram, Photoshop, Camera Awesome, Camera+,) to enhance the content of the photo (e.g., changed color of photo to sepia tones or add content to the photograph), and send it to a prospective student-athlete as an attachment it to an email or direct social media message?

Answer: No, a photograph that has been altered or staged for a recruiting purpose cannot be sent to a prospective student-athlete.

The reason this rule exists, as John Infante explains, is to prevent schools from creating fake photoshopped portraits of a player in uniform, to name just one of countless potential abuses. (Why these "abuses" are worth stopping in the first place, I can't really say.) But to extend the rule to simple things like Instagram and Hipstamatic, the home of mediocre photos (including mine) made less mediocre by discoloration and "aging" -- why, exactly, should this be against the rules?

We can only surmise the Add-A-Kitty app is also against the rules. Too funny.