Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston-inspired debate shows the real clowns are those who try to ban discussion

talkSPORT Drive presenter Adrian Durham debates the merits of online polls and debating different points of view…

The Buggles got it spectacularly wrong (thankfully for me) with their 1979 number one hit “Video Killed The Radio Star,” and now Twitter will have to doff its cap to radio as well, despite the best efforts of a mindless minority.

The outpouring of anger and rage – a lot of it faked for effect obviously – when my colleagues The Two Mikes put out a poll on Twitter to accompany their show at the weekend was laughable.

The poll asked if golfer Andrew “Beef” Johnston was a clown or an inspiration. The poll result showed 61% believed Beef to be an inspiration. Which meant 39% thought he was a clown. Yet people seemed desperate to be offended by the question. Weird.

Let’s clarify a few things here, because on Drive we get the same fake anger in response to our Twitter polls. If the question is so ridiculous it leads to a one-sided poll, then fair enough – it’s pointless.

But if there is a split in the result, no landslide, then there is debate.

The fact that 39% voted that Beef is a clown disappointed me, but I’d like to know their reasons for thinking that, maybe they could subsequently be educated.

If they had seen that video of Beef picking the boy up for his birthday surprise, and picking fellow golfers up along the way, with the kid getting wider-eyed at every stop, they’d realise Beef is an inspiration, and they might change their vote.

What’s wrong with a debate that enlightens people in that way? Anyone got an answer to that question?

More crucially from talkSPORT’s point of view, is that twitter polls do not stand in isolation. They accompany a show (hence the Twitter account from which the polls are posted). So to judge The Two Mikes’ poll without hearing what they said is poor.

I actually listened to the show and heard what they said. Mike Graham was very complimentary about Beef. Mike Parry less so, and I felt he was massively out of order for calling Beef a “clown” and suggesting he lacked dignity. Those comments were too personal, and from what I understand of Beef, those comments were totally groundless. 

But what’s wrong with asking a question and having a debate? If Parry can be proved wrong by a caller who has more information and a backed up opinion, then that’s a good thing, right?

Instead the knee-jerk, rather ignorant reaction is to shout and wail, tweet abuse, and try to ban any kind of debate. This is not Stalinist Russia, questions are allowed to be asked, and debates should follow – unpunished.

The poll result showed a lot of love for Beef, so I would have thought that was a good thing.

We had one poll on Drive last week, asking which is best: The Open or The Masters? Simple stuff, but one tweeter was so incensed he responded: “Is that a serious question?” Not abusive, but certainly mindless. The poll finished 55% in favour of the Masters. Good debate, a close one.

So next time you see a poll tweeted from a radio show account, tune in and listen before getting all pompous and offended. Don’t be a clown, be an inspiration. It might help you formulate an opinion worth listening to, and it might just help you get the better of Mike Parry when you phone in. Now that would be worth it, surely? 

Radio will always be a far better and constructive medium for discussion and conversation than Twitter. That’s certainly not up for debate.

Tune in to Adrian Durham for the best in sports discussion and debate, every weekday, 4-7pm UK time, on the talkSPORT Drive show. Click here for details on how to listen.