How do you take the pleasure out of something so marvellous and joyful as Emma Raducanu’s US open victory last night? Easy — turn on Twitter, which spoils everything including sport.
Raducanu’s victory is truly a great triumph; the most breathtaking sporting feat by a female British athlete in our lifetimes. Emma is 18 and beautiful, just did her A-levels and got A* marks, had been 400/1 to win the tournament, never dropped a set — all these facts make her achievement even more delightful. I’ll stop the adulation there, because an entire industry of sports commentators already exists to make these points over and over. We don’t all need to join in. Yet for some reason it’s expected that we do.
Remember the Euros — it was only two months ago — when every Twitter blue-tick decided his or her online status demanded endless pronouncements on England and other matches? It’s the same deal. Politicians started posing online as serious tactical analysts. Lifeless corporate accounts lectured us about passion, the Three Lions and racism. People who don’t usually follow sport at all pretended to be fanatical about it.
Idiocy is memetic and social media has created that most awful of creatures: the blue-check omnipundit, who has to have their say about absolutely everything. Some sports people pronounce incessantly about politics, too, you may have noticed.
Even weirder is the habit of clueless media addicts to issue formal statesman-like congratulatory tweets to victors, or commiseration to the losers, as if they were some dignitary presiding over the closing ceremony.
The retweet-junkies of the world know that major sporting events are great opportunities to generate online engagement and improve your profile. The more vapid the better. (Confessing to being ‘too tense to watch’ while still endlessly tweeting is a good one).