I understand that it goes against the instincts of a journalist to withhold information for the purpose of increasing the entertainment factor, which is why I sympathize with ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen and the rest of the insiders at both the Worldwide Leader and NFL Network who have been asked to refrain from tipping picks during tonight's broadcast of the NFL draft, both on the air and on their Twitter accounts.
But sports and entertainment are linked (a link which can be found in the ESPN acronym), and the reality is that revealing picks early does nothing to help anybody except spoil a secret only seconds before it's going to be shared with the world anyway. We're not talking about documents from Watergate here.
Yes, as Matt pointed out Monday, holding back puts Schefter and Co. at a disadvantage when it comes to battling competitors for scoops, but would they really be "winning" by announcing moves -- even big ones -- before commissioner Roger Goodell? Polls indicate that fans simply don't want to know, so while Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports can and will reveal picks on his Twitter account, that could backfire when followers complain or hit the dreaded unfollow button. Here's what you need to do if you're on Twitter tonight and you don't want picks spoiled:
“We’re not a broadcast partner for the draft,” La Canfora told the Sherman Report Wednesday. “I will be trying to get the information out as quickly and accurately as possible. What event is made more for Twitter than the NFL draft? If the teams have the information; if the guys in the production truck have the information; if the commissioner has the information; why wouldn’t passionate football fans want it as well?”
“I’m going to do what I think best serves the people who follow me,” he added. “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s draft experience, but I also have a job to do.”
It won't happen with Schefter, who earlier this week said he still had the ability to tweet newsworthy developments during the draft but now says he won't be tweeting at all.
Starting 8p Thurs till after 1st rd, no tweets from me. Every worthwhile development will be broadcast on ESPN. We hear u. Enjoy the draft.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 24, 2013
The key: We hear u. As of early Thursday morning, 85 percent of the 20,000-plus football fans polled at Pro Football Talk said they didn't want to know the draft picks before they were announced by the commissioner. Not tipping picks on Twitter or having reporters break news is one thing, but the key test will be whether or not ESPN and NFL Network can avoid tipping picks on air at all. Whether that be phones in the green room, "hints" from anchors, or anything in between. If the networks are committing to preserving the entertainment value of the draft, they need to go all the way.
There is not one person tonight who will think, "Jason LaCanfora is such a great reporter because he's tweeting picks 30 seconds before the commission says it." So I ask what does he get out of it?
I do want to know about trades on Twitter though. That's entirely different from revealing picks.
I know some hardcore fantasy guys (I play, but not to their level of obsession) and even they won't be watching.