Why More Sports Stars Should Be Like Andy Murray

The small-minded idiots who criticised British No.1 Andy Murray for supporting the Scottish independence campaign need a reality check.

Instead of vilifying the Scottish player they should celebrate the fact that, at long last, a top-level sportsman has finally engaged with serious politics. God knows it's a rarity.

The Twitter-storm kicked off last week when Murray, just hours before Scotland was due to vote on their future, came out in support of the separatists. 

"Huge day for Scotland today!" he wrote on Twitter. "No campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. Excited to see the outcome. Let's do this!"

At least he finally had the courage to nail his colours to the mast. Up until that eleventh hour, he had remained tight-lipped about which side he supported. Knowing what a furore it would cause with the cyber-trolls, he should be commended for jumping down off the fence.

Fearful of upsetting their sponsors, the vast majority of global athletes steer clear away from any opinion that's vaguely political. But in doing so they appear dull, detached and sometimes dim.

Not Andy Murray. Okay, he's no seasoned political theorist, but on important issues that matter he always has an intelligent and considered opinion. Which is more than you can say for many of the brain-dead sports jocks on the ATP and WTA tours.

There's a tired old adage that says sport and politics should never mix. It's one usually trotted out by those who don't understand politics or by those with the largest vested economic interests. 

The truth is that politics exists in every sphere of human activity. Just because sport has some exceedingly wealthy and powerful sponsors doesn't mean that somehow it's exempt.

READ: How the Scottish Independence referendum affects Murray & GB tennis

READ: The real reason Murray appointed AMelie Mauresmo as his coach

Wouldn't it be exciting if world-famous footballers jumped into the debate on FIFA corruption and the bidding process for the World Cup.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if Formula 1 drivers had boycotted the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix over that country's merciless crackdown on anti-government protests.

Wouldn't it be life-affirming if Olympians started questioning the human rights records of the nations they were required to compete in.

Suddenly we would all realise that athletes actually do possess brains, hearts and consciences.

The greatest shame about this recent Murray Twitter-storm is that the mauling he received at the hands of those cyber-trolls may well snuff out any political opinion he wishes to express in the future. (One particularly vile misanthrope Tweeted that he wished Murray had been killed in the Dunblane school massacre, the mass shooting at the player's primary school back in 1996.)

It took years for Murray's media managers to smooth over his light-hearted comments about supporting any team England were playing against in the 2006 World Cup. Fortunately, it will take less time to smooth over his latest pro-independence comments. 

Nevertheless, the player will from now on be even more cautious about voicing opinions. Twice bitten, four times shy, you might say.

In the meantime, Murray needs to up his game if he's to qualify for the upcoming ATP World Tour finals in November. After that comes the first Grand Slam of 2015, the Australian Open, for which Murray is third favourite at 6.50. Overall favourite is Novak Djokovic at 2.40

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