Scottish Independence: a Danger for British Sports?

sports1Andy Murray

Le sport joue un rôle central en Ecosse, où les sports d’extérieur, comme le rugby à XV, le football et le golf, sont très populaires. L’Ecosse a de grands champions, comme Andy Murray, 3ème joueur de tennis mondial, et Chris Hoy, champion de cyclisme sur piste. Mais le sport en tant qu’institution est une affaire britannique. Qu’adviendra-t-il du sport écossais et du sport britannique si l’Ecosse prend son indépendance ? 

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Andy Murray and Chris Hoy are British sport icons, and more particularly Scottish sport icons, with a golden medal won in Wimbledon by Murray and 6 by Hoy between 2004 and 2012. But their sports future is unsettled with the upcoming Scottish referendum.

Scottish athletes have won Great Britain 13 of its 65 medals and 7 of its 29 Olympic titles, even though they represent only 10 % of a strong delegation of 542 sportsmen. So, in case Scotland opts for independence on September 18th, the United Kingdom would lose not only 30 % of its surface area but also all the great athletes who contributed to the success of the United Kingdom at the last Olympic Games. The country would have to form a national team and constitute a national Olympic Committee.

Furthermore, independence could prove fatal to the Scottish sportsmen because it would deprive them of certain high-quality training bases and a part of the financing which has allowed them to aim for the highest level.

sports2Chris Hoy

For example, Chris Hoy trained during all these years on the road-cycle cyclist in Manchester. Badminton champion Imogen Bankier declared: “we can tap into the English system and be part of Team GB when it suits us and use it to our advantage. Independence would mean we would lose that. That’s only going to see sports suffer.” Scotland will have to give up more than the 12 million pounds paid every year by UK Sport, the institution responsible for financing British sport.

However, for Will McLeish, Head of media at Sport Scotland, Scotland would be capable of making the transition as smooth as possible. The athletes would be allowed to choose between the United Kingdom or Scotland and the majority of them would certainly choose their country of origin out of national pride.

Moreover, Murray and Hoy are powerful icons and inspiring models for all the UK’s young people who practice a sport. Britain would therefore lose some its international radiance while Scotland would be able to strengthen its cultural identity, which includes sport.

Florian DUVALLET & Matthieu FUTERAL

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