Let Rory McIlroy Play Soccer, People of the Internet

The 144th Open Championship is but ten days away, and one of the favorites-to-be at St. Andrews is (was?) Rory McIlroy. However, that changed on Saturday, and we found out about it at around 6:00 AM this morning.  From Rory’s Instagram:


Total rupture. According to a McIlroy spokeswoman, Rory has a “10% chance” of playing in next week’s British Open.  In the meantime, he is most certainly out of this weekend’s Scottish Open, and it would take a minor miracle for him to be back at the “home of golf” for the British Open starting next Thursday.

The injury, and the nature in which it was suffered, has understandably set off a debate on whether Rory should’ve been kicking around a soccer ball in the first place.  Reaction has been understandably mixed, and in the age of Twitter, the story has exploded.  Here are some takes:

However, the hot take of the day goes to this “fair and balanced” Fox News anchor, who called McIlroy a “leprechaun” and said that she “can’t stand him”:

But here is the real question: why can’t the internet let this go?

Weird injuries happen all the time in sports, and this case is no different.  Take the injuries mentioned in this excerpt from a legendary 2002 Denver Post piece from Mike Burrows:

Lionel Simmons was a rookie starring for the Sacramento Kings in February 1991 when he developed tendinitis in his right wrist and forearm. The injury was caused by Simmons playing his Nintendo GameBoy, and he missed two games.

“It’s not unusual for Lionel to be focused on something,” Jerry Reynolds, the Kings’ general manager at the time, told reporters. “But to hurt himself like that?”

You mean, like former NBA guard Muggsy Bogues, who once missed the second half of a game because he accidentally inhaled ointment during halftime treatment of a sore muscle and became dizzy?

“One of those fluke things you don’t even dream about,” Bogues said.

GameBoy.  Inhaling ointment.  Luckily for Bogues and Simmons, they played in the age before social media.  Both were good players (Simmons averaged 18 points per game in his rookie season; Bogues played 14 years in the NBA) but neither had to face the ignominy that social media would have brought them.

Sammy Sosa hurt himself in 2004 after a violent sneezing fit brought on back spasms.  The sneezes ended up putting Sosa on the disabled list.  Coincidentally, 2004 would be Sosa’s last All-Star Game appearance.

Were we supposed to tell Sammy Sosa that he couldn’t sneeze? Were we supposed to force a “No GameBoy Rule” on Simmons? Or, in the most famous example of a weird, overzealous sports injury, were we supposed to tell Bill Gramatica not to celebrate his field goals?

The point here is that McIlroy is entitled to do whatever he wants during his free time. I sincerely hope he and his buddies weren’t playing on artificial turf, but he can play soccer if he wants to.  Even if he got hurt in the process, what’s wrong with a little game of footy with your friends?

It would’ve been terrible, but Rory McIlroy could’ve hurt or burned himself barbecuing on our nation’s birthday.  (Don’t laugh: according to Men’s Health, grilling results in 17,000 injurious accidents per year.)  Rory McIlroy could’ve hurt himself walking down a flight of stairs.  And, worst of all, Rory McIlroy could’ve hurt himself by setting off fireworks at his own peril.  It could’ve happened to anyone, anywhere, and it happened to McIlroy in a soccer game on Saturday.

As for the theory that he should be training?  Well, he’s a normal person just like everyone else.  He trains to be successful and he takes breaks to enjoy he life he lives.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Most people in this country don’t work on weekends; why should he, especially when he isn’t playing in a tournament?

Rory McIlroy is the best golfer in the world.  An ankle injury and the potential for yet another major win from world #2 Jordan Spieth could change that, but, in 99 out of 100 cases, playing a soccer game wouldn’t.  However, Rory happened to rip up his ankle in the process, and he is facing social media scorn for it. That’s a crying shame, especially for the best golfer in the world.

Why can’t we just leave him alone?

Chief Spieth: What Jordan’s Win Means for Golf

So Jordan Spieth didn’t self-destruct on Sunday.  With his second straight 70, Spieth tied Tiger Woods’ 1997 Masters scoring record with an -18, 270.  Every time it seemed competitors Justin Rose or Phil Mickelson got within 3 or 4, it seemed Spieth would always respond.  At 21 years and about 8 1/2 months, Spieth became the second-youngest winner in Masters history.  Last year, Spieth was tied with Bubba Watson for the lead on the eighth hole on Sunday; he would lose his share of the lead after a bogey on the ninth hole.  Using those experiences, Spieth ran away with this year’s tournament by four strokes.

With this win, Spieth catapults himself to second in the world.  Number 1 in the world is Rory McIlroy, and this could become one of the great rivalries in golf.  Who wouldn’t love to see a scenario like the 1977 British Open at Turnberry where Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson sped away from the field and dueled until the final hole?  Watson carried a one-shot lead into the final hole.  Both birdied, and Watson walked away with a Claret Jug.  Watson finished at -12, while Nicklaus was -11.  The next lowest competitor was Hubert Green; he was -1.  Who wouldn’t love to see Rory and Jordan lap the field and duel for major titles in the future?  If Spieth can avoid the Bubba Watson distinction of not having the same amount of success at other courses as he does at Augusta, he and McIlroy will be the world’s two best golfers for a long, long time.  Spieth’s all-around game seems to suggest that he can be that kind of golfer, and can compete at many different courses.  He doesn’t have any real flaws in his game, and he seemed to have complete control of his short game, and, particularly, his putting.  He doesn’t kill his drives, but his short game is so strong that that doesn’t really matter.

In conclusion, the game of golf is in really good hands, and specifically in the four hands of Spieth and McIlroy.  Get ready to enjoy golf’s next great rivalry, as these two continue to develop and flourish as they mature throughout their careers.