McIlroy should ignore the baying mob and continue to 'just do it'
SIDELINE CUT:Would Jesus Tweet? If He was to walk in today’s world, isn’t it probable that He’d see good old Twitter as the most convenient way to hastily accumulate “followers”, to keep tabs on the vibe emanating from the Vatican (Pope Benedict XVI, a recent convert to Twitter, has a hefty 1.5 million followers – just nine million less than Harry Stiles of One Direction) and perhaps also to take an occasional sneaky peek into the Twitter world of Wayne Rooney or the Dali Lama, who has six million followers and counting.
Like icons of pop music and films, the biggest sports personalities spend much of their time in flux, always either travelling to the next big game or race or tournament or preparing for it. It is a bizarre life, moving through crowds of people but spending a lot of time alone and cut off because of their fame and popularity.
For athletes who spend a lot of time in airport lounges or in locker rooms or hanging around for press conferences or sponsors’ events, Twitter has become both a really useful plaything and a straightforward means of communication with fans. It has quickly accumulated astonishing numbers of people eager for 140-character updates into thoughts and views, however profound or trivial.
Le Bron James for instance, who tweets under the bashful @kingjames has a whopping army of seven millions followers. Nearly three million people follow Tiger. And Rory McIlroy has over 1.5 million followers, almost as many people as live in Northern Ireland.
You have to assume the vast majority of those are following McIlroy because they are golf fans. But as McIlroy discovered this week, political persuasion often overshadows sporting allegiance.
One of the most refreshing things about McIlroy is for all his politeness and friendliness, he has a bluntly honest edge and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He has been involved in several amusing spats on Twitter already.
Air his views
But when he idly decided to air his views on Barack Obama’s inauguration speech with the decidedly vanilla observation: “I must say … I love watching Barack Obama making speeches #Inspiring.”, he couldn’t have been prepared for the response.
Minutes later, McIlroy found himself in the dock as the comments poured in. Just reading them would make you indignant on McIlroy’s behalf.
For instance: “How about you shut the f**k up and go back to your own country” (Whohh, pal ... that’s a two-time Major champion and Ulster season ticket holder you’re talking to. Like to hear you say – sorry, Tweet – that with Big Darren and Stephen Ferris standing beside him).
“No offence Rory but either play for the US in the Ryder Cup or tweet on your own screwed up country. We don’t need any help.” (Hey ... steady on. And which screwed up country? Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland?).
“Its called voter fraud. Wouldn’t expect a Scott to understand.” (Voter fraud! Bet Al Gore chuckled at that one. And he’s ain’t no Scot – or Scott! He’s Irish. Northern Irish! But he likes the Republic too! And he may play for Britain in the Olympics. But he ain’t no Scot!).