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UPDATE: Little League Releases Social Media Policy

Commack Little League North President Michael Campione says the policy was delivered verbally to parents in March.

Commack Little League North President Michael Campione released the policy the league presented at a March 24 meeting for all managers, coaches and team parents outlining a zero-tolerance policy for those who speak ill about the league on social media sites.

It's this policy, he said, that  after she wrote criticizing the league.

Campione later apologized and .

Campione also said he's been hit by personal attacks since the news of the banning first broke, including having his car egged.

The policy:

Notes for CNLL Meeting re Social Media/Facebook

Last year, CNLL experienced for the first time a problem with parents and players posting negative, threatening and defamatory comments on Facebook regarding the league, board members, parents, managers, coaches and fellow players. 

This is a problem that will not be tolerated this year and will be met with a swift and potentially harsh response.   

We recognize that we live in a country in which the 1st Amendment to the Constitution gives us the right to free speech. However, by voluntarily choosing to become a member of CNLL, you are obligated to abide by the League’s rules, policies and procedures as well as those of Little League Baseball, Inc. 

In this regard, please note that parents and players may be subject to discipline, including suspension or permanent termination of membership, when, in the sole reasonable opinion of the CNLL Board of Directors, the conduct of a parent or player is determined to be detrimental to the best interests of CNLL or Little League Baseball. 

Effective immediately, all managers, coaches, team parents, parents and players are placed on notice that you run the risk of immediate suspension or permanent termination of your membership if you are responsible for making disparaging, threatening, offensive, retaliatory or otherwise inappropriate comments made about the league, any board member, any parent or any player on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site.

Lorenzo July 08, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Although this might be a prudent policy, the article claims the policy was announced at a board meeting at which the board admits in the blog no parents have ever attended. The league has the e-mail addresses of every players parents and can easily distribute mass e-mails notifying its members of such changes. If you change the rules and dont tell anyone about them how can you in good faith refer back to them. I can support that new policy to some extent, but again the original blog topic was more to the tune of constructive criticism. Additionally, some of the board member responses on the same blog could be seen as violations of the policy as well. Mike and board, you have some good ideas, keep them coming for the betterment of the league - a warning or a reminder, in this instance would have gone a long way. Keep cool heads, even though it is tough sometimes, and remember that your good deeds are appreciated by everyone (even the ones who complain a lot)
Michael Ende July 08, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Lorenzo: I am submitting this comment solely for the purpose of clarification and not to address any of the substantive issues contained in your comment. As I have indicated previously, I am happy to address specific issues via email (thesarge17@yahoo.com) with you or any other member of our community, and we welcome all feedback -- good or bad -- that is intended to improve the little league experience for all of our children. The policy referenced above was not announced at a board meeting. This policy was announced -- by me -- at a mandatory meeting for all managers, coaches and team parents. We received extremely positive feedback from many of those in attendance both during and after this meeting, and from many other parents thereafter. Thank you for all of your fair and balanced posts, and for your thoughtful suggestions. Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to address any other issues. Mike
Lindsay-Ann Valentine July 08, 2011 at 08:35 PM
I only have one comment to add, and it does not need a response. They should have never said in the first article that the parents signed something, since it wasn't true. Should have gotten the story straight.
Michael July 08, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Last time I checked, I could criticize The President of the United States if I so desired and not fear retribution. Seems to me that some people need to read the First Amendment to the Constitution. Free speech can not be stifled because someone decided to write a memo.
Henry Powderly (Editor) July 08, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Lindsay, Thank you for the comment, but the story never says parents signed anything. It said the league had a different code of conduct posted on its website. Thanks for reading, Henry
Michael Ende July 08, 2011 at 08:55 PM
One other final point of clarification: The policy outlined above was put in place to protect EVERY member of the Commack North Little League community. The policy was developed in response to a very serious situation that occurred last season in which children, parents, managers and coaches were subjected to threatening and harassing posts on social networking sites. This was a very shocking and eye-opening experience for all of us, and our hope is that nothing like this will ever occur again.
Michael July 08, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Then that particular case should have been addressed individually. We dont ban driving because someone drives drunk. We prosecute the offender. To say we have instituted a "zero tolerance" policy against criticism is absurd.
Lorenzo July 08, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Thanks for catching my mistake, but I guess the point is still the same. The rule may have not made it to the masses as it should have; Maybe posting it on the CNLL website could have helped. I'm sure you guys will make everyone aware of the rule for next season. I offer credit where it is due, I was impressed with the field reconstructions and several other new ideas I saw implemented. I hope you guys continue with it and wish you only the best in bettering the experience for the kids and parents alike.
Anthony Zumpano July 09, 2011 at 12:14 AM
You have a point, Michael, but (and I'm speaking as someone with no dog in this fight -- I live in the south part of Commack) this policy is similar to what many employers have. If I went on Facebook and Twitter and ripped on my employer, I would likely risk being fired. I'm sure if a White House employee went on "Meet the Press" and tore into Obama, the guy would soon be out of a job. The First Amendment isn't necessarily applied as broadly in cases like these, though I'm speaking not as a lawyer, but as someone who used to claim he was a lawyer when he was at singles bars. That being said, "sole reasonable opinion" and "otherwise inappropriate comments" strike me as rather -- put probably necessarily -- broad. I'm curious to see how this plays out.
Jonathan July 09, 2011 at 12:30 PM
It's been my experience that when a person or organization finds a need to stifle all negative criticism about itself, it generally has much to hide. Historically it usually leads to bullying and worse by those same persons or organizations - - I'm sure Hitler justified his secret police actions for some mis-perceived ill as well. I too have no dog in this fight. But the concept that an organization can threaten to punish children for their thoughts or the thoughts of concerned parents scares the hell out of me, no matter what the justification. From my perspective, if the leaders of the organiation can't handle the criticism they should step down, hand the torch to someone who can, and stop trying to deny people's right of expression because it embarasses them
Michael July 09, 2011 at 01:17 PM
Very well said. Unfortunately there will always be small minded people that need to put themselves into positions of power over other people. We just need to be vigilent and weed out the ones that cross the line.
steven July 09, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Michael and Jonathan you both hit it directly on the head.The mind set from the other side is what dictatorship is all about. The analogy of voicing a negative opinion about the company you work for is off base, the correct analogy is we are shareholders looking to better our investment in the company. They are not paying us we are paying the league for our kids to play in.
Michael Ende July 09, 2011 at 06:24 PM
To equate anything that was done here to a Hitler-like action is reprehensible and disgusting. You have every right to express your opinion, but you should think twice about saying something like this.
Michael July 09, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Hitler was reprehensble and disgusting. To invoke his name to illustrate an observation is not. I dont think any reasonable person that reads this forum would think that post compared Little League officials to Hitler. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.", George Santayana.
James T. Ryder July 09, 2011 at 07:50 PM
WOW, and I thought I was controversial when I said Lady GaGa should be collared for weaking x-rated boots to a child's instructional class. Debate is what makes this country great - and while you all debate this issue please try to be civil and respectful. And if you want my two cents.... these parents pay to have their children play so it is NOT the same as when an employee bad mouths their employer. The First Amendment does protect opinions and if those opinions are expressed in a public forum like PATCH then I think those opinions are protected under the Amendment. And if you think the Little League is private, then go speak to the Boy Scouts about prohibiting gays. The Courts had a different opinion on that one too. I'm just saying :)
Michael Ende July 09, 2011 at 08:17 PM
I have done everything I can to take the highest road possible over the past few days, and to serve as a voice of calm and reason that was desperately needed. It is truly a shame that even in trying to do that, others continue to cast stones and sit in judgment. Who, exactly, are the small-minded ones? Many years ago, in one of my first appearances as an attorney in court, a very learned judge told me that when you know you have won your case, shut your mouth and let the other side continue to make fools of themselves. Judge Shaw, thank you. I have nothing further to add, and I rest my case. This power hungry, small-minded dictator is going to play catch with his son. Some of you should do the same. Life is too short. A 6-year old boy lost his father at a major league baseball game this week. Puts things into perspective, folks. Focus on doing some good.
steven July 09, 2011 at 08:48 PM
We did, we got the boy reinstated after you kicked him out.
Annie D. July 11, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Thank goodness the boy was reinstated as "he" said/wrote nothing on the blog. He should have never been kicked off, as "he" didn't make any "bad" comments!
Jonathan July 12, 2011 at 12:31 PM
The problem here is in management. The current President clearly didn't run for the position to do the best for the kids. He ran and was elected to add a feather to his cap. He doesn't care about hearing other opinions and / or making improvements that will help the players or the sport. He has already made up his mind on all things and has determined that he and only he knows best. That's the situation in a nutshell. Accordingly he doesn't want any criticism, because A) he is right, and if in doubt refer back to point A. and B, criticizing him is only going to ruin this latest line on his resume, and of course, earning that latest feather is why he is doing it in the first place.For him, not for the kids. Not for Commack. Yes, there are those who have made an effort to be the calming effort in the last few days; they have used analogies with no comparison to the subject at hand, they have spoken above others, they have manipulated, spun and twisted the facts. But they've done nothing to admit they were wrong, that they have no right to silence other's opinions, to admit that their revengeful actions were more traumatic to a child and his family than any words ever written in this blog, or to back off of a policy that no one other than his posse has supported and that even they know is morally wrong. If that's not the markingings of a dictator, Webster needs to rethink his definition. I think it's time that every parent in this town demanded his resignation.
Jonathan July 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM
As an afterthought, is this type of dictatorial bully - and that's really what his actions are - bullying - really the kind of role model any member of this town wants around their kids? Think about that.
Jonathan July 12, 2011 at 12:38 PM
If the shoe fits....
me July 12, 2011 at 10:03 PM
You got it all right Jonathan! They can not silence the community. The problems at cnll start with the executive board and go down. They deny everything and demand respect but have done NOTHING to earn any respect from my family!
Commackian July 13, 2011 at 01:40 PM
George, I think you're in the wrong article. lol
Commackian July 13, 2011 at 02:03 PM
While I agree that personally attacking people over social networking sites is absolutely hurtful and absurdly unproductive, this lawyer also agrees with Anthony Zumpano that the policy sounds unnecessarily (and unconstitutionally) broad and vague. While I totally understand the need for a policy in response to last year's debacle, which I hadn't heard about until you mentioned it (I don't have kids in the league) I think that this format is somewhat different and lends itself much less to personal attacks. While true "bashing" isn't helpful for either side, actual constructive criticism has its place in improving all of us. The way the current policy is laid out, however, it really sounds as if CNLL is banning any critical comments via electronic media, ever. By using a format like this, It's smart to address parents' concerns in a way that CNLL can't be accused of retaliation (because it's anonymous) and addressing it electronically (as opposed to meetings) enables them to reach more of the parents at once without having to either have lengthy meetings, which could also get heated or disseminate information through the coaches, in which the original message gets confused in the retelling. We all know that gossip can be rampant and is very often untrue or exaggerated. Here the CNLL officials have only to post it once, and naysayers cannot twist their words. It's worth considering.
Commackian July 13, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Michael, I think your attempts to bring some calm and reason to the debate are a wonderful thing and you should be commended for it. I must have missed where someone referred to you specifically as a power hungry, small-minded dictator. I think they were mostly referring to the overreaching of the "electronic bashing" policy and the banning of the blogger's kid, so unless you formulated it all by yourself and banned the boy, then I don't think anyone was actually referring to you. There is "bashing" and then there is taking any and all complaints so personally that you can't see anything but red. I don't think that you've done that, but there are definitely those in play here who seem to.

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