As Simpson told Golf Channel's Jason Sobel: "My main reason I signed on was just kind of to read what other people said. I loved hearing what other athletes say or other people I like to follow. But at the same time, getting in contention, I get more followers; I win, I get more followers, and there's a lot of negativity there, people saying really mean things."
Gotta tell you, I cringed when I read that last bit there. "People saying really mean things" is right on par with a weak comeback like "oh, REAL mature" when you get hit with a water balloon on your way to math class or whatever. You almost wish that Simpson could respond to his haters by informing them that he could buy and sell their shriveled little souls, but no, that way lies madness.
Look, it's no secret that there are trolls on the Internet. Some lurk right here, as you'll no doubt see in the comments below. (Watch: TIGER WOODS. Here they come! That's like catnip to 'em.) But the shame of all this is that, as is always the case, the few idiots ruin it all for the rest of us.
I'm not saying that every athlete is a must-follow; Simpson's timeline is fairly mundane observations of weather and restaurants, shot through with plenty of religious mediation and thankfulness. It's not exactly the unhinged tour through athletic celebrity of Chad Ochocinco, in other words.
But to me, the key to Twitter and social media isn't the fact that we get to see these athletes' new pairs of shoes or the inside of their Gulfstream or whatever. No, it's the fact that the "famous" can make connections one person at a time with fans. When some athlete replies to Joe or Jane Fan in Des Moines, chances are they're forwarding that reply to everyone they've ever met. That's a wee bit cool.
The culture of fame is strangling golf, and, really, sports in general. But as long as it exists, Twitter is doing an end-around, shortcutting the distance between fan and athlete. It's too bad that some people can't handle nice things.
- Webb Simpson