SUSAN EGELSTAFF SUSAN
In Scotland, there is scarcely a place which has not suffered terribly from the pandemic.
Sport is no different, and while its relevance when it comes to people’s lives is well below the pecking order, it is definitely an integral part of Scottish culture.
It is no secret how many, if not all, sports have been struggling in the past nine months. There has been no lack of problems when it comes to sports trying to survive, from arena bans to hall closures.
In recent weeks, however, there has been some positive news, as a variety of financial packages have been revealed to help different sports attempt to recover from this pandemic.
The new boost was the Scottish government’s announcement last week of a £ 55 million package: £ 30 million will go to soccer in a mix of grants and low-interest loans, £ 20 million will be granted to football, two million pounds will be given to ice rinks and horse racing, while the remaining one million pounds will be shared between a variety of other sports.
The news is, of course, welcome. It is understandable that soccer gets the lion’s share of the money, given that it is by far the country’s biggest sport and draws the most spectators.
But it is also critical that they do not neglect the smaller sports. In Scotland, there are hundreds of sports whose revenues have been decimated this year, and while they might not be as much in the spotlight as soccer, it doesn’t mean that they are any less important to society.
This year’s postponement of the Olympics has meant that a variety of sports that are only recorded every four years have once again gained no coverage and are thus not in a good position, in addition to financial hardship.
Although soccer needs considerable support at this troubled time, at the detriment of some of Scotland’s smaller sports, which offer many opportunities to children and adults alike, it should not receive much of the funding.
The pandemic has caused immeasurable harm to a wide variety of industries around the world, and the damage done to them all can not be entirely mitigated.
It is incredibly important that soccer is helped, with smaller clubs getting funding in particular to ensure that they do not go under.
It is equally necessary, however, to ensure that tiny clubs do not fight so hard in minority sports that they are forced to shut down for good.
AND a little more.
Since the first Games in 1896, THE Olympic program has grown considerably.
There were just nine sports on the schedule back then, compared to the 33 that will be in Tokyo at next summer’s games.
The notion that many of the sports that are now pillars of the Olympic program might have been far-fetched in the 19th century, but it is the current advancement that constitutes the greatest departure from what has historically been known as Olympic sports.
The IOC announced last week that breaking, a competitive method of break-dancing, would be included in the Paris 2024 Olympics. In addition to new inductees for the Tokyo Games, it is the newest inclusion in a growing program: baseball and softball, karate, sports climbing, skateboarding and surfing.
The inclusion of a sport like breaking would be enormously exciting for some and shows the determination of the IOC to concentrate on youth.
However, for sports that were overlooked at Breaking’s expense, last week’s announcement would be a bitter blow.
Squash is one sport that is going to feel strongly disadvantaged. For some time, they have been struggling for inclusion in the games, but this recent decision is another slap in the face.
When reflecting on the decision, squash legend Michelle Martin didn’t mince words.
The Australian said, “It’s a mockery of what the Olympics are,” “The Olympics have lost what they were. Yes, they’re trying to get with the times, but it’s making a mockery of it.”
In an increasingly competitive sports world, I’m all about the Olympics changing to ensure that they don’t become outdated. Yet there are restrictions, and there are far more dignified sports for me that merit inclusion.
A powerful reason for inclusion in Paris 2024 was the sport of cross-country skiing, and it is difficult to argue that breaking has greater global reach or a similar one.