Booth just grins and bears it
Ruthless keyboard warriors aren't going to cyber-bully the Canucks forward into change
It could have easily gone wrong for David Booth.
Amid the attention he recently received for donning a new camouflaged version of a Vancouver Canucks baseball cap, all it would have taken was for someone to snap a cellphone picture and quickly post it to a Twitter account.
Once again, the winger would have been taken to task for anything he attempts or adheres to - even his choice of apparel or his various hobbies. And because Booth is often in the controversy crosshairs because of hunting excursions, and using social media to extol his exploits with a bow and arrow, he's getting more than an elbow from the opposition.
He's taking harder shots in cyberspace than he does on the ice.
It's not as severe as what Rebecca Marino endured. The pressure to perform, and a six-year struggle with depression that came with heightened expectations, was too much for the Vancouver tennis star to endure and she stepped away from the game last month for the second time. Being a professional with a bright but pressure-packed future was magnified by bullying via Twitter. It played a part in the one-time world No. 38 retiring at age 22 to seek the solace of a quieter life, one that can be lived in peace without everyone wanting a piece of her.
"Social media has taken its toll on me," she said. "It not the main reason I'm stepping back, neither is the depression. Those are just two parts of my life that I would like to bring awareness to and wipe the slate clean in a sense so that it's all out in the open.
"The reason I am stepping back is just because I don't think I am willing to sacrifice my happiness and other parts of my life to tennis."
Booth doesn't step back. He steps up and there's nothing quiet about the noise he makes away from the rink. His faith and wide-eyed approach to life polarize people. They either love it or loathe it. And if they take exception, it's often quickly known via Twitter. While some consider that interaction harmless, it's a form of bullying because although he's been tempted to tweet back to start a cyber-battle, it's a war Booth could never win.
"As soon as you express your opinion, it seems you have to answer, and nobody has to answer for their opinions," Booth said. "It's kind of frustrating that way. You just can't continue to defend yourself because that just leads into more trouble.
"That's all right. I enjoy my hobbies. I know that once you talk about them, there are people in this world who have different opinions and sometimes they really get fired up about it. Over Twitter, you're limited to 140 characters to debate, so you're kind of running down a dead-end road."
That's true, but the relentlessness of it all is hard to ignore if you're an engaging personality and have nothing to hide and everything to gain from a gregarious nature. Booth's hunting endeavours have been well documented - he even posted a YouTube video of his legal bear-baiting expedition last May in Alberta, which caused an uproar - and a sense of offseason adventure took the Detroit native to Nebraska, Utah, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota and Minnesota during the NHL lockout. Even that rubbed some people the wrong way. Apparently, Booth was supposed to simply train morning, noon and night and keep to himself. And be quiet.
"I've noticed that," he added. "You sometimes have to take a step back and you can't say things that you want to say. It seems if you have a hobby, it takes away from your job, and that's not the case at all. You do it for your job so you come back fresh and ready to go. I know they're entitled to (tweet), but I know who I am and what I do, and I can go to bed at night knowing that I'm true to myself and I'm not trying to fool anyone.
"I know what my worth is. If you're trying to please, you're just beating a dead bush for the rest of your life. My sense of worth is in Christ and it's always kept me level-headed and I don't have to please everyone. If you do, you're going to drive yourself crazy."
All hockey-crazed Vancouver cares about is that the 28-year-old Booth suffered a groin injury in training-camp testing and had yet to score a goal in his first eight games back despite five shots in the first period a week ago in Calgary, and five more shots Thursday in Columbus.
After scoring just once in his final 16 games last season, including being blanked in his first postseason, there's little tolerance in this city for a guy who simply smiles through it all and vows to do better while pocketing $4.25 million US annually.
Booth's faith is sometimes a lightning rod, too, because fans only see the player and not the person. Booth is comfortable in his own skin and that bugs some. And they let him know about it.
"That's the thing," said Booth. "Humans will put standards on you. You don't win the Stanley Cup and it's a failure. But it gives you extra motivation and having the faith actually makes you work harder. God will bless you to use your talents and not waste them in this world. I've wasted some, and I just think that's part of who you are.
"You work at your gift and you're given a platform that's easier to criticize. I forgot who said it but it was: 'Any fool can criticize and most fools do.'"
Now there's a tweet.
© Copyright (c) The Province