Is it OK for European fans to boo American Ryder Cup players?

The Scoop

One of the biggest talking points of the Ryder Cup so far is the European fans' jeering of American players and celebrating when they make mistakes. Is that OK? Alex Perry and Dan Murphy disagree in Alternate Shot. Or do they?

Yes, says Alex Perry

We live in a world now where, largely because of social media, everyone feels like they have to say something, to get a point across. They’ve given us this platform – for FREE, no less – and we have to use it.

And we’re at our happiest when we’re having a bit of a whinge, aren’t we?

Scrolling through Twitter on Saturday morning between the tee times of the opening fourballs, fans and pundits alike were united in outrage about the fans booing from the grandstands behind the 1st tee.

Dammit, people, this is golf! And so on.

Now, I wasn’t at Hazeltine, but my understanding is that some rather malicious taunts were directed at the visiting players from the locals. And that is obviously unacceptable – but it is a very small minority of fans and they should be called out. But don’t tar all American golf fans with that brush.

But pantomime booing? Please.

But the USA fans do it! Well, that’s the constant Americanisation of our culture for you, I guess. Put that in your oversized Starbucks cup and, err, drink it.

As for celebrating balls ending in a watery grave, let’s step back and look at the context. Thousands of people queue up for hours in the pitch black and freezing cold to sit in a stand and watch 24 tee shots.

Nothing is won or lost with any of these shots. It’s not like other sports where you see game-changing incidents right in front of you – a ball is literally smacked hundreds of yards into the distance then you watch the players plod off after it. A ball finding the drink is literally the most exciting, and game-affecting, outcome from that tee.

If you want to cheer it, cheer it. If you don’t, don’t. That’s also fine. Ditto booing.

Just spare me the moral outrage because people are behaving differently to how you would behave.

Me? Well, I’m a grown man so I’m not going to boo another grown man for having the audacity for playing for the team that isn’t my favourite. But if you’re into that kind of thing, knock yourself out. You pay your money, you boo who you want.

Just don’t read Twitter afterwards…

Yes, says Dan Murphy (as well)

This is what happens with golf – the self-same people who claim to want to #growthegame are mortally offended by a bit of pantomime booing.

There is nothing worse. This particular segment position themselves as being reasonable modernisers who acknowledge that the game needs to change to reverse its decline. But they want the change to be all on their terms.

At least with the old-school bigots you know where you stand.

The Ryder Cup is not just a golfing event – it’s a global sports event. It’s a potential gateway to the game for millions of non-golfers.

In this, the first and quite probably last Ryder Cup to take place on French soil I would like to have seen tens of thousands of French sports fans at Le Golf National.

When you bring in a new audience, guess what, they don’t understand the many and particular customs of our sport. Does that matter? I don’t think so. If they spend enough time around the game then doubtless they will pick up the lingo, just the same as we have.

The atmosphere around the 1st tee in Paris is lively, jovial and, by sporting standards, tame.  Great – I hope the fans have a brilliant day and want to engage with golf again in the future. Maybe even play it.

Patrick Reed, the principal ‘target’, doesn’t speak to his own family. Do you think he is going to be upset by some high-spirited European fans having a bit of fun? I sincerely doubt it.

If you want to see a hostile sporting atmosphere then try the Principality Stadium when England are in town for the Six Nations. Or Anfield when Manchester United are the visitors. Or, frankly, any football derby from around the world from Buenos Aries to Milan. I once encountered a pretty tasty atmosphere at Lincoln against Scunthorpe.

Let me make clear – personal abuse is not acceptable. I have no time for heckling in any sport.

What we’ve seen at this Ryder Cup, though, is just good fun. Enough with the manufactured outrage. I’m all for it.

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