andy murray

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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I DON’T SUPPORT ENGLAND

The next major football tournament, Euro 2008, starts next month and given that neither Scotland nor England has qualified it is a chance to talk about something a bit more rationally than it is usually discussed.

England qualified for the last tournament (World cup 2006) and Scotland didn’t. When it started and Andy Murray the Scottish tennis player said he wouldn’t be supporting England there was a massive fuss in the English tabloids – and he reportedly received hate mail about the Dunblane massacre (that is where he is from). Murray had previously been reported as walking on the court when being introduced as ‘Andy Murray from England’ whereupon he corrected the umpire and walked off again and returned when reintroduced as ‘Andy Murray from Scotland’.

Murray eventually made a joke about his statement about not supporting England but I suspect this may have something to do with where he gets some of his funding.

When it happens that England qualify and Scotland don’t, the BBC in particular tend to start publishing opinion polls saying that X% of Scots are supporting England. Where they find these people I have no idea. I challenge anyone reading this to go into a pub full of Scottish people when there is an England game on the TV (doesn’t really matter what sport) and see who people are supporting.

You will find that the vast majority, like myself, would not only not be supporting England but will be actively supporting Englands opponents, probably going as far as to sing the national anthem of the other team (in a ‘da da da da’ style obviously).

The BBC, ably assisted by the tabloids, tend to paint the people doing this as ungrateful degenerates hellbent on causing unnecessary discord.

There is an obvious response to it all, which is simply..

It’s my support and I shall apportion it however I see fit.

But here are the things they usually say…

1) We’re all British.

2) The English support Scotland when they play.

3) Scotland don’t have a hope of ever winning the entire tournament.

4) If you don’t support England it means you are a racist.

Replies…

1. Geographically yes, but culturally we are not and politically we don’t all want to be…a large percentage of Scots want out.

2. We didn’t ask them to.

3. That is not the point and it is just the sort of arrogant attitude that makes me want them to lose – badly.

4. Behave.

With regard to point 2, this is often said but I have been in pubs in England and watched England and Scotland games (though not a Scotland V England game) and what I found was extremely far from universal support for Scotland.

With regard to point 4, are Dutch racist for not supporting the Germans? Are the Belgians racist for not supporting the French? Are the Koreans racist for not supporting the Japanese? Are the Ukrainians racist for not supporting the Russians? And so on and so on and so on. Can you find many examples of countries that actively support their neighbours?

There are some interesting other little stories I heard about all of this.

There was an English-owned sports store in Inverness that was told to play the England world cup CD in the run-up to the tournament. Due to the staff receiving verbal abuse daily from customers who didn’t want to listen to it the manager stopped playing it. She was then sacked for doing this.

A journalist put on an England strip when the tournament was on and walked around town in Scotland to see what would happen to him. Aside from a few shouts of ‘english bastard’ from some people going by in cars the funny part was a 70-odd year old man shuffled by him and said the same thing!

To finish, I just want to say it is obvious what the people are thinking. If Argentina beat England you suddenly see loads of Argentina shirts around the streets, if Portugal beat them then you see Portugal everywhere. I read a fantastic thing that sales of Argentinian wine in Scotland briefly doubled when Argentina beat England.

Scotland has been greatly oppressed by England through history – does one ask a slave to support his ‘owner’?