Monday, July 30, 2012

To sing or not to sing? Scots athletes and the national anthem

Scot goes Pop has gone all outraged at the controversy over Scots athletes not singing God Save the Queen before their matches. He quotes former javelin gold medallist Fatima Whitbread as saying that people have to feel British if they are competing under a British flag.

My message to both sides of that particular argument is that they need to get over themselves. If Kim Little and other Scots and Welsh athletes had been sniggering or crossing their fingers or showing disrespect as God Save the Queen was being played, they would be fair game to have a go at. They didn't, though. Their "crime" was to stand there perfectly respectfully.

My view of the anthem is that, rightly or wrongly it's the UK national anthem, not the English one. Others feel it's an English song. But they grew up with it being played as England's anthem at sports events so it's hardly an illegitimate view.

If I go to church, I don't repeat any responses which indicate a personal belief, because I don't have one.To profess otherwise would be disrespectful both to myself and to the church. I'm not prepared to avow things that I don't mean and I'd hope that any religious celebrant would understand that. I do, though, sit, stand or kneel along with everyone else and behave in a respectful manner.

I don't recall the likes of Jenson Button's or Lewis Hamilton's loyalty to their country  ever being questioned when they don't sing along to God Save the Queen when they win before they head back to the tax havens where they live. I don't, therefore, see why Kim Little and her Scottish and Welsh colleagues are getting it in the neck for not singing along.

Having said all of that, for the nationalists to play the victim over the controversy is just as silly. The team management are absolutely fine with the decisions of the Scottish and Welsh national anthem. The Daily Fail has a highly subjective interpretation of a British Olympic Association statement, saying that they were furious and that the statement was "terse". What the BOA actually said (apologies for link to Fail) was:

It's an individual choice (as to whether or not to sing), but the most important thing is to show respect

Not a million miles from what I said above and I'm neither terse nor furious.

Now, can we all just get on with enjoying the Games. David Millar, Robbie Renwick, Hannah Miley, Kim Little and many other Scots are doing us proud along with all the 541 athletes in Team GB. We will see all sorts of excellence from all over the world over the next two weeks. Let's get our heads out of our belly buttons and look outward, not manufacture rows where none exist. We should be challenging the rubbish in the Daily Fail, not allowing it to set our agenda.

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