sport

Playing Ball

At the moment polls are still fluctuating between a small lead for independence and a small lead for staying in a rapidly failing state (I know, I know).

That obviously means just over or just under half of the Scottish population support independence, and although people who work in some industries may be more one way or the other depending on the sector, Scottish sportspeople, apart from one or two notable exceptions, seem to be remarkably silent on the matter.

Guardiola.pngWriters, musicians, poets, businessmen, people in trade unions and from many other sectors seem to have no problem declaring that they are supporters of independence, high-profile sportspeople don’t seem to say anything on the matter.

Why would this be? It doesn’t seem to bother them in other countries. What reasons could there be that stop people in this sector stating their opinions on the issue?

Let’s have a look at some of the possible reasons…

  1. Being told not to – At a Yes event, the night before the first referendum, someone who was in a position to know and who I’ll just describe here as an influential person in the movement, told me that a captain of a certain football club, who is also an international player,  was a strong supporter of independence but had been told by his employers to keep his mouth shut about it. Perhaps the threat of losing lucrative contracts is being used to keep people from coming out in support of independence.
  2. Fear of losing funding from other bodies – Elite athletes go into a certain system in the UK. Elite athletes may fear the loss of funding. There is, of course, no reason an independent Scotland could not do the same thing, however there is some debate about if we would want to, as some have criticised the UK system of favouring elite athletes to the detriment of youth and local sports. The justification given for this elite model is usually that it helps to get more medals at the next Britnatfest, sorry, major sporting event.
  3. Fear of abuse – When Andy Murray (and his brother) came out for Indy on the day of the vote it led to some of the more, errrm, fervent unionists sending him an incredible amount of bile and hatred.1411001802017_wps_7_Andy_Murray_Tweet_2_jpgI won’t reproduce the sort of things they were saying about him as you’ve all seem them, but it was nasty.  As an aside, when Murray said he supported indy it seemed like it was done in a calculated fashion, like a last-minute try to gain an extra couple of percent. If that is true (and I really don’t know), then it was a miscalculation. It would have been great if Murray had declared early and people got to find out about it earlier on, instead of a tweet hours before the polls closed.
  4. Fear of being made a fool of – Most of us know that in the Scottish media in general and in many sections of the UK media, apart from the usual “ungrateful b*stard” type of narrative, any sportsperson who said something on what the media see as the wrong side of this debate would probably be ridiculed on the grand scale by any number of hacks whose jobs depend on them doing just that.
  5. Unionist explanation – With more or less half the population of Scotland supporting full independence, only the Murray brothers out of all the sportspeople in Scotland want to leave the UK. (I think we can rule this one out).

These are the possible reasons I can think of, and what they have in common, except number 5, is fear and some form of intimidation, and that can’t be allowed to go unchallenged, by any of us. We can’t allow fear to be used as a tactic to keep certain influential people’s mouths shut. If we let that happen, we’ve already allowed them to stop one of our best lines of attack, and one that the unionist side used frequently the last time round.

In that spirit, I’d like to say this… If you are a sportsperson reading this and support indy (or you know one who does), you are welcome to come onto the Scottish Independence Podcast and have a chat about it and I’ll get the story out and you will not be harassed on the show. If you’d like to tell a story about what I’ve suggested above anonymously, then drop me a line and provided I can verify you are who you say you are then I’ll do that too, or I’ll give it to someone who can get it out even wider than I can.

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Sports Betting & Upper Class Yobs

I think I’m prepared to bet that we are going to see a stark example of the British class system in action in the next few months.

623-fox-hunting-900You see, at the Epsom Derby, which is a jolly day out for many of the more rah-rah elements of society, it seems that there was a bit of crowd trouble.

What I expect to see unfold is that the individual offenders will be singled out and put on trial, which is all as it should be.

One way that it will provide us with a clear example of the British class system is that if the offenders  turn out to be upper-class types, they will most probably be treated as individuals who became a little over-enthusiastic on the day. If they were not of the “right sort” then they will probably be much more harshly treated.

However, this won’t be the most glaring thing.

I’d bet my wife’s left ball (joke) that whatever happens, the people who frequent racecourses will not be subjected to the kind of collective punishment that all football supporters have to suffer because of the misbehaviour of a few.

 

There are image problems and there are image problems…

Formula one people seem to think that the major problem people have with their sport is that sometimes there isn’t enough overtaking.

It may however be that having people like Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone involved has something to do with it.

Here is Ecclestone’s recent outburst...

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And just in case you had forgotten about it, here is a link to the story of the Ecclestone affair.

Sport & Politics DO Mix

Independence CelticContrary to the cliché, sport and politics DO actually mix. Whether you think that is a good thing or not is where the debate comes in.

Most people seem to like politics at football (or sport in general) as long as it is politics they agree with.

In order to see where you stand on the political issues you could compare your reactions to what Tommy Smith and John Carlos did at the Mexico Olympics or Emily Davidson becoming a martyr for the suffragette movement to some of the right-wing banners you see, for example, amongst the Serbian fans.

I was happy last night because there were two little political bits that I noticed that were both up my political street. At the Celtic V Barcelona match I was happy to see this banner in amongst the support…

But I’d have to say that yesterday the politics in football trophy goes to Greenpeace for their amazing protest which involved abseiling off the stadium roof and unfurling a huge banner at the Basel V Schalke match.

Here are a couple of videos of the event. I also notice that UEFA are blocking some of them…

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Silencing The Redundant

I think I only follow one footballer on Twitter and he is an ex-Celtic player so this isn’t anything that is likely to affect me too much but I am always uneasy about headlines like this…

Premier League issues social networking guidance for players

The Premier League has drawn up guidelines for players about how to use social media. 

They offer advice on the endorsement of brands, goods and services and also warn players not to reveal confidential information about team matters.

I don’t like things like this because even though they say “guidelines” and not “rules” or “laws”, it still seems that people are being told what they can and cannot say. Transgressors of the guidelines are likely to be punished.

Although I personally might not want to follow too many players (though I do follow a lot of fan media) that is beside the point.  These guidelines are still a little whittling away of free speech at the margins, and the fact it is done so publicly normalises the little loss too.

I am sure there have been “guidelines” given to olympic athletes about what they can and cannot say as well.

Wilful Ignorance or Unskilful Inference?

In an article about Welsh footballing greats, the BBC’s Kevin Leonard either doesn’t know, or clumsily tries to gloss over something.

When Team GB kicks off its Olympic men’s football campaign against Senegal on Thursday, it will feature five Welsh players, including captain Ryan Giggs, in a squad of 18.

It would have been six – but for one of Europe’s biggest football talents, Gareth Bale, aggravating a back injury.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have none.

The article at no point mentions that the associations of Scotland and Northern Ireland chose not to compete as part of Team GB (sic). Originally Wales also decided not to compete.
As the story progressed it was decided that there was no legal way of stopping players from the various home nations from playing if they so wanted. That said however, players were strongly discouraged by their associations from taking part.

I strongly suspect that even if not for football reasons, if the chance had been there then political pressure would have been put on the team manager to pick a Scot for purely political reasons, particularly with everything else that is going on at the moment.

The point, which the article misses out, either wilfully or through negligence, is that the opportunity probably wasn’t there due to the pressures applied elsewhere, for good or bad.

I’m going with good.