Grant Dodd
In unison, the nuns looked skywards, anxiously scanning the ceiling above the baggage carousel at Paris-Orly came out, the pistol was sheathed, and life went on without further disturbance. More than a decade later, the mere possession of a water pistol at an airport would likely see you sharing company with Interpol officers for the rest of day. And although there is no real way of measuring, the tolerance – and occurrence – of anything approaching ‘prank’ status in public now seems to have reached an all-time low. Many will view this as welcome progress. Inarguably, the world is a far different place and one where those with a public profile are acutely aware of the consequences of even slightly aberrant behaviour in view of others. In the brave new digital world of real-time communication and social media, the realities of summary online judgement and execution are well known. Numerous high-profile sportspeople have recently learned this hard lesson of modern life. Such lessons, meted out in the form of virtual public floggings, have played their part in forcing individuality in an already insular sporting world farther into its shell. The insatiable appetite of the internet for scandal, however trivial, has reduced most athletes’ tolerance of risk. It is little wonder then that colour in sport, as we used to perceive it, is rapidly becoming an argument around shades of beige. Ironically, Caroline Wozniacki, the world No.1 women’s tennis player, turned up to an Australian Open press conference and read aloud the answers to a series of questions that she was anticipating, lamenting the lack of creativity in the press corps. But the world’s sports media has become conditioned to blandishments and generalities to questions with even moderate investigative ambitions. While a few of the hardened hacks at Wozniacki’s ‘presser’ no doubt muttered ‘chicken and egg’ analogies in muffled tones, there is little doubt that a momentary impasse has been reached where an element of predictability and sameness dominates the sporting landscape. That’s not to say that the nuns of the world should have to walk the earth wearing waterproof clothing. But it would be nice to know that in the foreseeable future, ‘character’ isn’t destined to be confined to the number of letters used in a Twitter message.

Much a Twit about nothing

Twitter devotees, such as Ian Poulter, have embraced social media despite the ramifications.

To ask Grant a question, e-mail us at golfdig@ newsmagazines.com.au

airport for a telltale sign. Necks arched, veils perpendicular; to the casual observer, they might have been seeking a lead from the man on high as to how much more of their vaunted patience was required. A good proportion of the professional golfers also doggedly awaiting the arrival of their delayed luggage knew otherwise. We’d already found the source of the mystery liquid falling sporadically from the roof of the terminal. Sitting quietly by a window, a future European Tour winner stared nonchalantly into space, a look of innocence and blankness across his face. Then, when the nuns were satisfied that the leak had stopped and resumed conversation, he pulled from under his leg a bright green water pistol and arced another perfect stream high into the air, which broke into droplets on its way down to the ladies of God. The prank was jaw dropping in its audacity. Most present were familiar with the metaphor, but few had ever been witness to the slaughtering of a sacred cow. Perhaps as a consequence, the moment was met with bemused, awkward stares from those in the know. The episode was over in less than a minute; bags


/ MARCH 2011