THERE is no greater exercise in optimism than watching Scotland’s football team in action. All who follow the national squad know that disappointment is an all too frequent outcome. It is as well, then, that the Tartan Army of supporters is known for its good humour in defeat.
But, despite the relentless crushing of hope, we keep on supporting Scotland, hoping against hope that, just maybe, this time…
It’s rather a shame, however, that many Scots lose out on the chance to watch our team in action. A deal with satellite TV broadcaster Sky means Scotland games are no longer broadcast on the BBC, robbing those who can’t afford hefty subscriptions of the opportunity to watch.
What more character-building exercise could there be for young Scots than early exposure to the national team in action? What better lesson could there be in coping with adversity, in laughing in the face of defeat?
So we back shadow secretary of state Ian Murray’s call for broadcasting of Scotland internationals to return to terrestrial TV. Those of an age to remember when Scotland matches were free for all licence-holders to watch would surely agree there was excitement about those big games. They brought families together around the box, and inspired youngsters to get out and kick a ball, to get some exercise. Now, matches on TV are watched by adults in pubs or those youngsters lucky enough to have parents who can shell out for the privilege of viewing at home.
Sure, Sky invests a great deal in football. The money it pays for rights helps the game flourish. But is the ability to see Scotland internationals the key reason people sign up to sports packages? We’re not so sure. If Sky would agree an accommodation where they shared Scotland internationals with the BBC, we’re confident their subscription base wouldn’t suffer.
Despite hard times for the Scotland team in recent years, there have been thrills in the last couple of seasons. How marvellous it would have been if those infrequent glories could have been enjoyed by all, rather than the privileged few.
Ian Murray’s campaign to make this happen deserves the support of all of us. It should be every Scots right to enjoy the highs – and commiserate over the lows – whenever the national team takes to the pitch.