Come watch the Aggies, but leave your camera at home

Strange things are happening at Utah State.

In what looks like an effort to chase off the few remaining fans of the football team, USU is telling people they can not take high-quality pictures of the football team. The fear, apparently, is those pictures will eventually be posted on personal blogs, websites or message boards.

Aggie administrators have decided cameras with detachable lenses are against the rules unless the person using them has a media credential. That means the parents and friends of Aggie athletes are forbidden from bringing much more than a point-and-shoot camera into USU athletic facilities.

The new policy is this:
Utah State University is dedicated to providing an exciting and memorable guest experience, while ensuring their safety and security. The following policy sets forth certain photography rules for attending any USU event and applies to all guests.

No commercial or flash photography of any kind is permitted. Camcorders or any other audio/visual equipment is prohibited unless authorized by the USU Athletic Media Relations Office.

Specifically, the use of the following equipment is not permitted:
* Lenses greater than three-and-one-half inches in length.
* Telephoto or zoom lenses of any kind.
* Interchangeable lenses of any kind.
* Monopods or tripods.
* Flash equipment of any kind at indoor venues.

“The main thing that we are trying to put across is that we are trying to do a better job of protecting our student athletes,” USU sports information director Doug Hoffman told the Logan Herald Journal. “There is always that potential out there if someone is taking high-quality photos, that they can surface on the Internet, and then who knows where they end up. There are strict NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) rules in place on what we can and can?t do with our student athletes. The last thing we want to see happen is one of those things occur outside of our realm.”

According to the article, USU made the decision after being asked for media credentials by a fan-operated website. Rather than give credentials to such sites and give them legitimacy as a ‘media outlet,’ USU interprets the sites — particularly independent ones not part of a network — as ‘commercial ventures.’

“Hoffman explained that National Collegiate Athletic Association regulations pushed the school to enact the policy,” the article states. “NCAA Division I Bylaws state that a student-athlete’s name, image or likeness cannot be used to promote a commercial venture.”

And while it’s more than understandable that a university would seek to prevent a private company from printing up a stack of Jaycee Carroll or Diondre Borel posters and selling them without university authorization, it’s not as if there are many cases of such a thing happening. If, by chance, that did happen, USU would be absolutely correct in trying to stop it.

But to tell the average fan — and in most cases, it’s just the mom and dad of a player that would care enough to bring a fancy camera to a game — that taking high-quality pictures from the stands is not allowed makes little sense.

Why on earth would USU’s brass really be worried if somebody’s blog posted a few dozen — or even a few thousand — game photos?

With an average attendance number of less than 12,000 over the four most recent seasons, the last thing USU needs to be doing is giving fans another reason to stay home.

Right now, the Aggies need every fan — not to mention all the free publicity — they can get.

So, if you’re headed to Logan on Saturday to watch the Aggies face Idaho, get there early for all the yummy food associated with the ‘Ag Day’ festivities.

Just leave your camera in the car.

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