Scotland and the Olympics 2012 – 2016

Forgive the parochialism and sheer bloody small-mindedness of this post, but it’s not me, it’s the nationalists (or some of them) wot done it.

2012. My memory of the London Olympics, fallible, but there you go … positive feelings all over the place. In fact, so positive and widespread that as Brit after Brit pulled a medal (it was a home games so to be expected) Scottish nationalism seemed muted for the three weeks of the games. When a Scot won one of the Team GB medals, of course there was celebration at all levels from the British Biased (sorry, not my word) Corporation, who went out of their way to highlight the individual’s success, backgound, celebrating locals and family etc etc etc to the Royal Mail, who painted a pillar box gold near the winner’s home for every gold medal won – there’s one about ten minutes’ walk from my house. The only tiny fly in the ointment I remember was the Scottish (SNP) government attracting some ridicule by setting up a Scottish Olympics base in London, for what purpose I’m not sure, perhaps the provision of recuperative bacon rolls for visiting politicians with free tickets, or hosting international visitors with some interest in Scotland.

Roll forward four years to 2016, and what a difference. The previously muted grievance machine seems to be in overdrive, sniping away at details I couldn’t have invented if I tried. Here’s my random selection as of today (I’m sure there’ll be more before the games have run their course):

  • nationalist politicians who go out of their way to urge Scottish members of Team GB on and congratulate them when they win a medal but seem blind to other winners – a particularly curious one-sidedness when the Scottish athlete is in a team event and their fellow team members are from elsewhere in the UK
  • when doing this, using the hashtag #Rio2016 on Twitter but apparently unable to bring themselves to add #TeamGB (I am assured this is Nicola Sturgeon’s practice although I’ve not checked). And here’s an example from Angus MacNeil SNP MP yesterday – ‘Seems this is Scotland’s most successful away from British Isles Olympics in over a century #GoodStuff 12 medals so far -one less than 2012’ (the emphases are his)
  • today’s Herald – ‘Independent Scotland would rank 13th in Olympic medal table … after Scottish athletes secured a record haul of medals away from home.’ Er, yes. Something wrong with the word ‘would’ there I think. Surely ‘might if’ would be more appropriate, as in ‘might if a separate Scotland could afford the world-class facilities, coaches and sports science that the UK lottery funds’ (just waiting now for someone to pop up with ‘It’s oor lottery!’) [Update 17 August: Huffington Post, aided and abetted by some alert tweeters, has confirmed that the basis of the Herald’s calculation is wrong – a separate Scotland would in fact be 35th in the medals table]
  • a moan from the ever-alert G A Ponsonby (anti-BBC guy)  about the running order of BBC Scotland news, complaining that an Olympic news item took precedence over the possible closure of Kinloss barracks: this is the sort of micro-management of editorial decisions that nationalists want
  • Glasgow councillor Jim Torrance, SNP of course, who wants more ‘Scottish coverage’ of the Olympics ‘not Pundits,’ pundits presumably being a euphemism for English pundits. Helpful souls pointed out to him that foremost amongst a number of Scottish commentators on the BBC’s coverage of the games was one Sir Chris Hoy.

(If you want more of the same search on Twitter for ‘scotland olympics’)

Perhaps Hoy no longer counts as a true Scot for nationalists, having taken what they’d see as the English shilling with his knighthood. Andy Murray has come in for a bit of stick too, having had the temerity to accept the invitation, and honour, of carrying the union flag in the opening ceremony (a.k.a. the ‘Butcher’s apron hated throughout the world’ to some SNP politicians – come in Paul Monaghan, your time is up). I saw a clearly emotional Andy mouthing the words of the national anthem in the medal ceremony after that incredibly hard-fought final against del Potro. Tennis boycott, anyone?

I’m not sure whether BBC Scotland has played a marginal and perhaps unintended role in all this griping. They seem to need their own correspondents – I’ve noticed two so far, one male, one female – to report on the performance of Scottish athletes in the games. That’s obviously not enough Scottish coverage for councillor Torrance.

I wonder whether any separate BBC Scotland presence is needed. There’s one team there, TeamGB, representing one country. Let’s have local, regional, home nation, whatever, celebration of success by individual athletes. But that’s as far as it need go. Personally, I’d criticise the BBC headline coverage as being too TeamGB-centred. I’d like to know more about winners and sports where we don’t excel. But more Scottish coverage from a nationalistic perspective won’t help that and will just add another layer of chauvinism to what is there already. In fact, just what the moaners and gripers want.

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3 Responses to Scotland and the Olympics 2012 – 2016

  1. I may have missed one or two, but I think up to now there have been 3 individual Scottish medallists at Rio 2016: Andy Murray tennis gold; Callum Skinner cycling silver; and Sally Conway judo bronze.

    4 Scotswomen have won rowing medals in 3 different crews and there were 3 Scots in the silver medal winning men’s 200m freestyle relay swimming team, plus another who earned a medal by swimming in a heat. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that a Scottish team might have won 2 team medals for a total of 5. However, that assumes that the technical and coaching support would be equal to the very high level enjoyed by Team GB

    5 medals is a very good total for a nation of 5 million, but 12 is exceptional. It just goes to show that we are better together.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. wujeanty says:

    A question has been occurring to me as I’ve been watching the Games: if the Scots Nationalists’ version of reality is true (ie, that we are oppressed and enslaved by the evil English), why have no Scottish athletes (as far as I am aware) ever, and I mean EVER, boycotted the Olympics on the basis that they do not want to represent a country which has enslaved them? Moreover, why have Scottish athletes always sung the National Anthem and embraced the good old Apron with as much gusto as their English colleagues?

    The answer seems obvious to me: people good enough at sports to have even a sniff of getting into the Olympics are winners in life, and are therefore unlikely to believe the SNP’s fairy tales that unseen and unprovable evil forces are holding them back. On the other hand, all SNP supporters I have ever come across (and there have been a few, including a whole bunch of elected representatives) are, in one way or another, losers. But not noble losers who take their defeats and setbacks on the chin. No. The common denominator is that they are the very worst kind of *bad* loser, ie, people who blame others – in particular the English – for all their own flaws, inadequacies and failures.

    In short, if you are a winner you are unlikely to share the SNP’s grim view of the world. If you are a loser, and in particular a bad loser with a chip on your shoulder and an inferiority complex, well, the SNP’s version of reality is tailor-made for you!

    (Incidentally, I think this goes some way to explaining why our public services are going down the u-bend – they are in the hands not of winners, but bad losers. How can our services possibly thrive and improve under such people – people who lack the basic ability to take responsibility? They can’t, and it is inevitable that the longer these people remain in power, the worse our services will get. It is as certain as night follows day.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. nothanks5545 says:

    One thing that’s abundantly clear about TeamGB since 2008 in Beijing and built on since, is the undoubtedly talented athletes have been improved from hopeful competitors to genuine medal contenders. This is primarily due to the vast investment in coaching, facilities & other support provided from the lottery and other sources.

    Scotland has a fraction of England’s population. There’s going to be a smaller pool of talent to begin with. And as an Indy Scotland will be staring at £15bn deficit can you believe there’s any prospect of a Scottish Government investing in elite sport on the scale required to be competitive on the world stage?

    Liked by 1 person

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