Belfast Telegraph

Why Rory McIlroy should be able to have a kickabout with pals if he wants

By Jane Graham

Oh, Rory. Aren't you a silly boy? Number one golfer in the world, two weeks before the biggest tournament in the world is set to take place on the most iconic course on the planet, and you decide to have a game of football with your pals.

Don't you know that superstars are governed by the same law of Sod's as the rest of us ordinary folk? It's the same logic which stops Beyonce heading down the local disco for a jive the week before her world tour kicks-off. And which spurs 14-year-old kids to put their lucky gonks in a safe place a few days before their exams. It's not rocket science, Rory.

And, of course, it's not just feather-headed thoughtlessness which we can accuse the Holywood man of. It's much more serious than that. The football-incited ankle ligament injury, which has ruled him out of The Open in St Andrews next week - casting "a real cloud" over the event, according to some commentators - is evidence of 26-year-old Rory's childish irresponsibility.

He hasn't just been daft, he's been downright insulting to golf fans, who were looking forward to seeing him defending his Open title. The same fans who support him and pay his wages and give him shoulder massages and stroke his cheeks.

How has he returned their affection and free personal services? With a casual act of flagrant selfishness, the moral equivalent of throwing cow dung at them.

It's a scandal and Rory should be made to pay. And he can damn well afford to, what with all that money the public have stuffed into his back pocket. The swine!

Yes, fans and sports pundits lined up to chastise Rory McIlroy for his debauched and perilous kickabout with friends this week. Many appeared to feel that Rory was public property, whose success and popularity made him accountable to his followers.

When did his freedom officially end, I wondered; when did he sign his IOU to the world? Was it the first day a fan said, "What's he got to complain about, with all that money?" Or perhaps after that, when he looked tired and frustrated on the course and a TV commentator opined that he "owed it to his fans to give 100% every time"? After all, it was his fans, and the media who put Rory where he is now, wasn't it? Plus that little thing about him being brilliant at golf.

There has long been a belief among the public and the journalists who feed their passions that, once they've decided they like a high profile person - usually a sports or music star - said person becomes beholden to them, a role model who must make every decision according to how it will affect thousands of strangers who gain pleasure from their work.

When Liam Gallagher flicked the Vs at his brother and abandoned the stage during an early Oasis gig, everyone agreed he had let down the people to whom he owed the most. Me, I thought the whole point of choosing rock 'n' roll over banking was that you could flip the bird and walk away whenever you wanted.

This strain of thought has gone on to infect all kinds of people. Lately, the Labour leadership battle has been plagued by charges that Yvette Cooper's team is capitalising on the fact that their woman is a mother (thus generally perceived as normal, acceptable) and Liz Kendall is not.

How we enjoy standing in judgment of politicians' lifestyles, whether we know the reasons for that lifestyle, or not.

Doesn't it feel good, all that power we have these days? And all these people we own?

How FA is offside with sexist tweet

They admitted it was "unfortunately phrased". But the FA tweet welcoming home the English women's football team after the World Cup exposed the instincts of the men who run the biggest sport in the country.

The tweet read: "Our lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today, but they have taken on another title - heroes." There's no question the tweet was well-intentioned and the reference to heroism heartfelt.

But it spoke volumes about the FA's horribly outdated attitude to their women - still regarded primarily as the appendages of their families, whose main role is at home.

There's still a long way - and, perhaps, a generation - to go.

Time to get with the kids, George

What does George Osborne have against young people?

Is he jealous that his "baby face" is getting worn and haggard, while fresh-faced, confident young people are flooding the Commons and looking him disrespectfully in the eye?

His latest Budget does all but kick the young directly in the face - no housing benefit for under-21s ("but be willing to take a job hundreds of miles from home"), a living wage for everyone except under-25s (up to nine years of work without it), and university grants replaced by loans so poor young students accrue extra debt.

Make an enemy of a generation, George, and duck down in the future.

Belfast Telegraph

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