ROB CROSS believes that constant online abuse from fans will “alienate” players from social media. The 2018 World Champion is bidding for a place in the PDC Home Tour final tonight (Thurs) against Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen, and Jonny Clayton.
But the Hastings star, 29, admits that he feels the escalating problem of online attacks on players will stop them interacting with fans – and that’s a big worry for the sport. Over the last month Jelle Klaasen, Kyle Anderson, Peter Wright, Paul Nicholson, and Cross have been given major stick on Twitter.
He said: “It’s getting way out of hand. I think most of the charm of darts is that the players are down to earth, in the main none of us are divas. “I think darts is the working-class sport now. We love to be amongst the fans, we do exhibitions so much and we all love it. “But over the past few weeks it has got so bad online that I think players will stop using social media, it will alienate them. I know players that are just going to not do it anymore. That would be such a shame.
“I definitely stepped back from social media a couple of years ago when myself and my family were getting death threats. You just don’t want to see that sort of thing.”
Cross admits that he has been on the receiving end of insults despite winning both his Home Tour groups and suffering the loss of his grandad to coronavirus. But he has also praised the PDPA for being so proactive to protect the players and giving them advice. He added: “I’ve played in the Home Tour despite losing my grandad to Covid-19 just a few weeks ago. We’ve had a really tough time.“
“My nan has moved in since he died and straight up I’ve not practiced hardly at all. We’ve had the funeral to deal with and naturally all the grief. It’s been a horrible time for us all. “Yet after winning both my group stages so far, my social media has been full of insults at me! “A link was put up on one thread pointing out the PDPA online abuse statement, and the guy replied that I deserved all the abuse”.
“I just think players will stop talking to fans. It’ll be such a bad thing because the minority will ruin it for everyone else.”
“Most of it is people losing bets and then blaming the player for it. The stupid thing is that I can guarantee no player in darts ever goes out to lose a match, we want to win every time. “The PDPA are brilliant, I have to say that. They are always quick to get in touch if abuse has been excessive. It’s just a shame no one can solve the problem because Twitter won’t change it.”
Cross is now concerned for pregnant wife Georgia who is suffering from SPD as she carries their fourth child. He added:
“She’s on crutches at the moment, so it’s really tough for her. We think she’ll be induced in August. If it gets any worse she’ll have to use a wheelchair until the baby is born”.
“Life certainly isn’t dull. We’ll crack on with the Home Tour. I don’t think I’ve played that well, I’ve just done enough each time but it has been difficult to concentrate on darts over the past few weeks.
“If I can win this Home Tour it will be nothing short of a miracle considering what’s been going on.”