WIMBLEDON – It doesn’t take much for a video to spread like wildfire – especially if there’s a kid and some mean adults involved.
And so, one teenager immediately became social-media famous this week.
Video of American player Jack Sock’s first round match appeared to show a grown man aggressively fighting for a towel thrown by Sock in the kid’s direction.
The reality is not quite so clear-cut, of course.
Sock didn’t even look up as he threw the towel, and underthrew it if he was aiming at the kid.
So in fact, the kid reached over to where the man and his wife were comfortably ensconced in their front-row seats (in matching shirts and coordinated hats, no less) to get the towel.
Nevertheless, what grown man will tug-of-war so relentlessly to take a souvenir towel away from a kid?
Meanwhile, the man’s wife just smirked, and never broke rhythm with the chewing gum.
Social media to the rescue
Sock got wind of it, and reached out on social media.
That probably hurt more than the towel burns he got in securing possession of the souvenir.
On Wednesday, a representative from Sock’s management agency, IMG, said the young fan had been found and that he was from Ireland.
“He is gone home now but Jack invited him to his matches and said he will send him a towel,” the spokesperson said.
But …. hold the phone.
First gets towel ripped away, next imposter pretends to be me! Crazy! Picture shows me in same outfit as boy watching the match! @JackSock
— Peter Woodville (@peter_woodville) July 6, 2017
It turned out the kid from Ireland was scamming. The real kid was an American kid from Philadelphia named Peter Woodville.
His mother Faiézé, who is on Twitter but had barely Tweeted until this week, had it brought to her attention, and responded.
Peter Woodville from Philadelphia is the boy pic.twitter.com/NGnwiKXf50
— Faézé Woodville (@Faeze_Woodville) July 6, 2017
The proof was in the cap. It’s from the boarding school Peter Woodville’s father attended – one of the most exclusive schools in the U.S.
The school, of course, jumped on the opportunity to recognize its alumnus. Even snooty prep schools are on Twitter!
— St. Paul's School (@StPaulsSchoolNH) July 6, 2017
Peter came back the next day – he and his family queued up for five hours to get back onto the grounds – and got his towel. And a photo.
“He was upset. He told me he was shocked more than anything. Because in the states at a lot of these sporting events, if adults catch a ball or something they go out of their way to give it to the youngsters. They don’t keep it for themselves. He was very disappointed and I think he was shocked,” mother Faézé told the British Associated Press.
That’s far from true. Old guys wrestle foul balls from young kids in the stands at baseball games all the time. But it’s always better to remember the good people.
Ready for his closeup
In the meantime, the 14-year-old did what a 14-year-old in this day and age does. He got on Twitter and started fielding media inquiries that pretty much sounded like this: “Hi, I’m a journalist. Can you follow me so I can DM you a few questions about the towel?”
As for the well-hatted couple, you hope they headed home and had some of their other grownup friends give them the what-for.
Certainly no one sitting around them did – Wimbledon fans are far too decorous.