Leader: Save our Highland Games

SOMETIMES in Scotland, especially in the summer, it seems everywhere you turn there is a festival of some sort going on. Storytelling, French cinema, folk music, books, seafood, community-based events of every possible stripe – all of them evidence of a civic society in rude and robust health.

Which makes it all the more puzzling, and a little dismaying, that one of this country’s most traditional gatherings, the Highland Games, is in decline. The study we report today paints a stark picture of a tradition in trouble.

Government bodies such as Event Scotland have done much good work in recent years attracting an ever-widening array of sporting events to these shores, and their efforts deserve credit. But do the authorities have a blind spot with Highland Games, taking them for granted as they chase the latest free-running tournament or its like?

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Games are not, in the main, events primarily aimed at visitors. They are community events which bring rural communities together and are manifestations of pride and belonging. Many have unique traditions and many have seen competition through the generations. They have a worth way beyond the tourist dollars.

It would be difficult to suggest a more deserving cultural and community cause, a piece of our tradition that is worthy of support in difficult times. In this challenging economic climate people talk about protecting core values. Highland Games represent a core value worth protecting.