Tavish Scott: In a nation of winners, football lets side down
Live sport takes some beating. The Scottish Swimming Championships took place last weekend in the newly refurbished Royal Commonwealth Pool. Hannah Miley sprinkled Olympian star dust on Edinburgh. Miley will be the name to watch on the first day of swimming competition at the London Games. Her presence pushed many young Scots swimmers to personal best times amidst a great atmosphere in this Olympic year. Some Scots have just missed out on Olympic qualifying times but are optimistic about Glasgow 2014.
A notable feature of the Scottish Championships was the event management. It felt and looked like a big occasion with corporate sponsorship, the officials in identical outfits and coaches galore cajoling their charges on to greater efforts. I was there to cheer on some brilliant young Shetlanders but was caught up by the atmosphere of the event.
Winning is good for the soul and for the country. Role models like Miley encourage and inspire a new generation of swimmers. Chris Hoy does the same for cycling. Glasgow’s new velodrome named in his honour is a wonderful sporting arena. Add a couple of thousand cycling fans screaming a Scot to success and this could be the hot ticket for the Commonwealth Games.
Scottish rugby has just published its plans for the future. They are bold. Solid objectives have been set to increase match attendance, improve the experience for the supporter at Murrayfield and thus to deliver greater income for the game allowing investment and more coaching.
But the objective for our national side is a striking one. Scotland to win the Six Nations by 2016 and the World Cup in 2015. Our national side would thus to be one of the top six ranked teams in international rugby. That is ambitious.
After the success of the summer tour down under, where three tests were won, these goals look more possible. Every Scottish rugby supporter, every Scot, wants to see a winning national side. We have been close. Had Gavin Hastings kicked that penalty when tied 6-6 in the World Cup semi final in 1991 our national side would have contested a world final. So it can be done.
Rugby’s positive pitch is at odds with the management of our other national game. Football is in turmoil. Supporters need some hope that people who are in charge now know what they are doing. Is making the national side internationally competitive and building the quality of the club game uppermost in their minds or are some administrators just worried about money from Sky television?
We do lead the footballing world in some ways. Craig Levein pioneered the 4-6-0 formation long before Spain made it fashionable. He too did not play a striker. Levein was, needless to say, roundly condemned by the Scottish football press as his experiment was unsuccessful. Spain won. That is the point. Supporters and even the press will give leeway if the team is winning. Winning is better than losing with great style and skill.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
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Wind direction: South