Glasgow 2014 – Team BBC, Team Scotland and Team GB

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By G.A.Ponsonby

Well Glasgow 2014 is over and what a show it was.  The closing ceremony was the icing on the cake with Burns’ Aye Fond Kiss beautifully sung as the Commonwealth flag was lowered.

There were highs and lows, moments of great drama mixed and moments of humour.  Dougie McLean brought it all to an end with a wonderful rendition of Caledonia … and followed it up with a tearful Auld Lang Syne, with help from Lulu and Kylie.

By G.A.Ponsonby

Well Glasgow 2014 is over and what a show it was.  The closing ceremony was the icing on the cake with Burns’ Aye Fond Kiss beautifully sung as the Commonwealth flag was lowered.

There were highs and lows, moments of great drama and moments of humour.  Dougie McLean brought it all to an end with a wonderful rendition of Caledonia … and followed it up with a tearful Auld Lang Syne, with help from Lulu and Kylie.

Everyone will have their own special memory, their own special moment.  But few will deny that the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – the twentieth such games – exceeded our expectations and the expectations of those who took part.

Our Games, Scotland’s Games … Glasgow’s Games, were watched by most in Scotland via the BBC.

Team BBC

There’s a bit of an online debate going on over the BBC’s coverage – too Anglo-centric some have said, where were the Scottish voices?

I have a degree of sympathy with this view.  In truth though the BBC had already announced it would be sending its top team to cover the Games and in any event, BBC Scotland just doesn’t have the depth of experience and talent to take on an event of this size.

That said, the almost total absence of any of BBC Scotland’s presenting talent was a bit of a blunder by the UK BBC.  Sure we had Hazel Irvine, but Hazel is a network presenter and has long since left the shores of the Clyde where BBC Scotland is situated.

BBC Scotland has capable presenters who would have slotted in.  Richard Gordon is one of the most accomplished anchors in the UK and Rob McLean’s effortless presentation would have sat well with some events.

In every department the UK network personality dominated.  It wasn’t just in anchor positions where Gabby Logan, Gary Lineker and others eclipsed their BBC Scotland counterparts but other less key roles also appeared to ignore the home grown talent.

I would have thought that athletic legends like Alan Wells would have complimented athletic analysis and surely Alex Arthur, already an experienced media commentator, could have been used instead of Amir Khan?

There were also moments of questionable editorial decision making such as the finale of the bowls where Scotland were moments away from winning the gold medal, and the BBC cut away to a preliminary hockey match involving England.

And what about our first Gold medal.  That moment belonged to Coatbridge lass Kimberley Renicks.

However the gold medal ceremony was not broadcast live on the TV.  I scrambled to my PC to watch the first rendition of Flower of Scotland as the Saltire was raised.  The BBC, at that very moment, was broadcasting a live interview with an English cycling team.

It did at times feel as though we were watching the rest of the UK as they watched us – a surreal experience.

Team Scotland

That said, the Games were a fantastic advert for Glasgow and Scotland.  The competitors revelled in the home support and the medals poured in – fifty three in all.

How many of these athletes will now go back to their neighbourhoods with inspirational stories to tell and how many youngsters will follow in their sporting footsteps as a result.  And not just the medallists, the experience gained by all athletes will prove invaluable.

But here’s the thing.  How many of these competitors would have had the opportunity to step into a major Games arena had they not been able to pull on the Team Scotland jersey?  How many can afford to wait until the next Commonwealth Games before once again competing on an international stage?

Team GB

At the London Olympics we were regaled with stories of Team GB.  If you’ve heard Sir Chris Hoy’s name once, you’ve heard it a thousand times.  But there has to be room for others who, unlike Hoy, aren’t the best at their sport in Great Britain.

Team GB, by its very nature, is an exclusive club dominated by English athletes.  Their dominance was reflected in the Glasgow Games final medal table which they topped, beating Australia into second place.

Scotland’s athletes are being starved of the opportunity to perform in Olympics, World Championships and Euro Championships because our neighbours have too much strength in depth.  It’s not their fault, England is just too damned big.

Team GB should be abandoned and Teams England, Scotland, Wales and if they wish, Team Northern Ireland allowed to flourish.

How much easier will it be to address the unhealthy lifestyle in some parts of Scotland if the chance to participate on the world stage is greater than now?  How many more heroes would Scotland’s communities be able to look up to for inspiration?

Boxer Alex Arthur claimed that when he was an amateur, he was warned against holding the Saltire if he wanted to be part of an Olympic Team GB.  Imagine the national pride when Team Scotland emerges onto the Olympic opening ceremony, Saltire fluttering?

The Glasgow Games showed that all four home nations can compete against one another without rancour and, like many other sports such as golf and boxing, we even cheer one another as well.  The individual national pride shown by all athletes at the Glasgow Games were an advert for ending Team GB.

Finally

Wasn’t it a shame that Glasgow was denied the opportunity of basking in the afterglow of the most successful Commonwealth Games ever, when, only hours after the closing ceremony, David Cameron’s World War 1 commemoration began in Glasgow.

One of the reasons Glasgow was chosen, we were told, was precisely because so many Commonwealth countries had taken part in the Great War.

Pity their flags were not on display in George Square the morning after the Commonwealth Games ended.  Huge Saltires and Union flags were visible … where have we seen this combination before?