london 2012

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.

Not Exactly in the Spirit of the Thing

The term the ‘olympic spirit’ is somewhat misunderstood if you consider that in the ancient olympics, if you knew your opponent was better than you, it was quite the done thing to nip into his tent and night and snip is hamstrings thus clearing the way for your victory.

However, if you take it in its modern sense of meaning helping and improving humanity (in somewhat limited areas I grant you), fair play, trying to be the best and all the other sporting metaphors that shouldn’t always be used as a guide in other areas of life but far too often are, then something else that seems against the spirit of the thing is that  the word olympics is a registered trademark.

This isn’ t new however.

The United States Olympic Committee and Trademark Infringement forbids the use of ...

The words Olympic, Olympiad, Citius Altius Fortius, or any combination or simulation thereof tending to cause confusion, to cause mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the corporation of any Olympic activity.

The London 2012 people have done the same thing. At a basic level this means that they could do you if, for example, you wanted to have a competition in your school (or technically even your back garden) called The ********* Secondary School Olympics as this might cause confusion with the real thing.

It’s an indicator that these major sports, although we may or may not find them, or bits of them, enthralling, are definitely not of the people in the way that they are often portrayed.

Every time one of them comes round in any country troublemakers are rounded-up beforehand and people are evicted from  their homes to make way for the tournament infrastructure. In the run-up to the China olympics there was much of this kind of thing in the media but for the London Olympics it has been there, but much less prominantly so.

Also, most of the money these tournaments escapes without doing any real good.

FIFA have been getting a bit of a going over in the media of late, the IOC could be doing with one too.

Hoping for a Tommie Smith Moment

When it comes to sport we are all familiar with the concept of the vast majority of Scots not supporting England in major tournaments.

Furthermore, we are also familiar with the complaint that when it is a UK team, a Scottish winner is described as “British” and a Scottish loser is described as “Scottish”.

But I will go you one further.

I don’t support the UK in any of these competitions either. I don’t like it when the olympics etc come round and a Scot wins or does well and is then seen parading around with the union jack. So in these tournaments I support no one. Not even the Scots in the UK team because if they do well then the victory parade with the Union Jack is on the way.

So when the olympics are on and the media are frenziedly trying to turn a London party into a UK party (does that last line make anyone think of something else too?), I’ll be waiting for a Tommie Smith moment.


A Tommie MacSmith moment would of course be nice but some displays of social conscience by any of the athletes would be good. I know they are told not to but I think the point is that you do it even though they don’t want you too.