Twitter reveals the ugly side of sport

by admin

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
 

Perhaps it is a sign of the times. No longer are writers and journalists dusty old moaners with a chip on their shoulders about how the game should be, although there is still a contingent in some of the more elite press rooms across the land. No, Twitter has done more damage to the image of the hack than any hatchet job on Gary Linkear’s bedroom antics could ever possibly do.

You may never fully agree with their opinion but the respect for their profession was there. That is now a thing of the past as some of the most respected writers in the country comment, discuss and inevitably bicker their way across cyber space. From truly respected writers like Paul Hayward and Henry Winter of the Guardian  to the more salubrious yet equally valid Sean Custis of The Sun, all and sundry offer their opinion on a subject, receive abuse and go home to cry into a pillow.

It was with great interest this week that I followed the painfully awkward jostling of Sky’s Spanish correspondent Guillem Balague and the Mirror’s Ollie Holt following the first leg of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Champions League first leg tie. Like all great arguments it went from faux friendliness to bitchy and downright spiteful, with the goading of the baying public weighing in on each rebuttal the other had to offer.

The argument? If the British press had an anti-European agenda with regards to foreign players being more harshly criticised for diving than British players. The pettiness of the squabbling seemed grossly at odds with their profession.

Now call me old fashioned, but there was something particularly galling about two well respected writers behaving in a manner that bore more similarity to a playground scuffle than two national journalists.

As with all things in the modern age, access to areas and indeed people is at an unprecedented high, and this is no bad thing. But Twitter has the uncanny ability to bring out the nasty side of human nature as they hid behind a pseudonym and keyboard as they spit their bile in less than 140 characters. Writers are now directly answerable for the pieces they right and have an accurate gauge of how it was received. Surely a good thing? But it never works out like that.

Manchester United’s Darren Gibson has been and gone. Bolton’s Kevin Davies has seen the iceberg and signed off at the prospect of terrace abuse usually saved for Saturday afternoon succinctly directed straight to their doorstep.

But yet some still come back for more. Each writer, journalist, blogger and live text commentator itch with anticipation to post the breaking news on the site,  to receive the plaudits and ego boost that comes with being in the know and being the first to comment. Being the first to reveal the new Barcelona kit for example, is a much more valuable use of energy than actual journalism.

Twitter has helped the likes of Ryan Babel, Carlton Cole and most recently Danny Gabbidon who had the bare faced cheek to react to the torrent of abuse that was coming his way, come undone and it could well be that national journalists are the next in line for fines from their employers for lashing out.

Twitter highlights the worst aspect of fandom, namely the anger, fighting and bickering that comes with the partisan nature of sport, and bares a comparison to a treadmill of anger, with comments going back and forth until little else makes sense other than to declare your hatred for any contrasting opinion that differs from your own. And now that the writers have shown themselves equally as confrontational, what little hope is there for anything changing? Sport is much better off without it.

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