Young At Heart
The media love nothing more than a scandal. Scandals divide opinions, unite the masses, and inject a little excitement into the daily lives of journalists. Scandals, big or small, boost blog hits, inspire writers, and attract attention the easy way. In other words, scandals are good for business. That’s why my colleagues discovered David Ferrer for the first time the other week, and it is why Donald Young is briefly a household name. My Twitter timeline at the moment is split between the Royal Wedding and Donald Young’s latest. If beating Andy Murray didn’t get Young much attention, his Twitter scandal certainly did.
For those of you unaware, (or to make this post less presumptuous), Young blew up my timeline when he tweeted in anger about the USTA. Having lost in the final of the USTA’s play-off tournament, Young found himself without a Roland Garros wild card. He would have made the cut on ranking alone if not for some ill-fated timing, and upon his loss he turned on the USTA with this emotional tweet: “Fuck the USTA! Their (sic) Full of shit! They have screwed me for the last time!” Young immediately apologised for swearing but didn’t take his remarks back. He then deleted his Twitter account. To cut a weary story short, Patrick McEnroe then held a press conference expressing how hurt the USTA was, and how they had tried to help him over the years. Young issued the apology they demanded.
Since the scandal, the majority of blogs, tweeters, and journalists have united against Young, (although not necessarily in support of McEnroe). Media and fans alike have jumped on the already heavy shoulders of the 21 year old. Spoiled, self-entitled, and brat, seem to be the words most commonly associated with Young. Yet the one often missed is the one I thought of first: human. Young hasn’t had the media training his peers have had. By spending more time being coached by his family, Young has avoided the classic well-spoken professional athlete mould. In a way, what Young said was refreshing. Despite some poor wording, Young’s comments were organic. What Young said didn’t come from a finely tuned PR machine, and they wern’t the words of his coach or the USTA themselves. They might not have been the right thing to say, but at that point Young was probably the player most like us. Here was a young man expressing his frustration at the system, at bureaucracy, at those in charge. Young felt frustrated, angry, and victimised. It is a feeling we have all felt at some time or another.
I’m not going to leap to the defence of Young. I don’t know him or the USTA personally, and the background story remains murky. I do wonder though, if we took away the PR people, the media training, the pre-established sentences, if more players would find themselves in the position of Young. If more players would show their flaws more often. How you might act is worth thinking about before jumping down Young’s throat. Perhaps it wouldn’t be in the classy way you envision.