SNP bring yet more politics into sport

Whatever their view of the status of “hero” being given by the press to the British Olympic team, most people would agree that, if we’re considering them to be representing their country as opposed to chasing individual achievement, we should be congratulating the whole team. Equally, we should be proud of British people who excel in any field, whether winning a Nobel prize of spending their life helping people less fortunate than themselves.

Unfortunately, there is one group of small-minded politicians, the SNP, who simply can not bring themselves to support anything in the name of Britain or the UK. The party’s leader, Alex Salmond, used the return of “Team GB” to call for a separate Scottish Olympic team. This idea was immediately rubbished by multiple medal-winning cyclist Chris Hoy, who called the idea “ridiculous”. Hoy later qualified his remark, explaining that while he would be proud to represent Scotland, there simply aren’t suitable facilities for any of the Scottish Olympic medallists to train in Scotland. One wonders in how many other aspects of life the same situation would arise if Scotland were independent. No doubt the SNP and other people in favour of independence realise they could continue to use many facilities provided by the remainder of the UK.

Last week, there were also calls for a Great Britain football team to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. Unsurprisingly, this idea doesn’t go down well with Alex Salmond. The constituent parts of the UK have their own football associations, and therefore field separate teams in international football competitions, for historical reasons. Salmond and the Scottish FA are concerned that a British team in the Olympics would highlight what is seen as an anomaly, and spell the end of the Scottish FA. Salmond said it could, “jeopardise or sacrifice the future of Scotland as an international football country.” Strangely, this is the same Alex Salmond who thinks Scotland will be an independent country in the next few years. Surely, if that were to come true, it wouldn’t matter if there was a Great Britain team in 2012. Once Scotland was independent, the existance of its separate football body would no longer be an anomaly. Perhaps Mr Salmond knows something about the likelihood of independence that he’s not letting on in public.

An equally barmy suggestion came from Labour’s Cathy Jamieson, who suggested there should be a play-off between the home nations, with the winner representing Great Britain in the Olympics. Surely that is just changing the method by which the GB football team is selected? The team appearing at the Olympics would still be the Great Britain team, even if they happened to all be players from the England or all players from the Scotland team. So presumably the situation from an international point of view would be no different than it would be if a single team was composed of the best players from across the UK.

In the end, it simply comes back to politics. The SNP will seize any opportunity to drive divisions between the British people to further their political ideals, whether it’s by promoting separate Scottish institutions, and suggesting that Scottish people are unpatriotic if they don’t agree; or by building resentment among people in England. I think I’ll finish with words from cyclist Chris Hoy:

The thing that baffles me is why people perceive Great Britain as England. It’s not. That’s why you can be proud to be British as well as Scottish because Scotland is part of Britain, same as Wales and Northern Ireland.

I couldn’t have put it better – someone should give that man a medal!

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