Saturday, February 17, 2018

The BBC's bizarre attempt to eradicate the word 'Scotland' from the Olympics

If you haven't been astounded enough lately, try watching the video in this tweet, because it's extraordinary.  It's from the BBC coverage of the Winter Olympics, and features 2002 curling gold medallist Rhona Howie (formerly Rhona Martin) accidentally using the word 'Scotland' in relation to the Great Britain men's curling team.  The host Clare Balding's reaction is staggering - instead of just correcting the slip, she puts the whole programme on hold for several seconds to deliver the kind of patronising admonishment that a parent might give to a three-year-old girl who keeps chucking jam at her grandfather's pet gerbil.  Rhona Howie visibly shrinks into herself and mutters "sorry".  Balding wraps the whole tragic episode up with the words "that's OK" in a tone of voice that menacingly implies: "It's not OK.  Don't EVER do that again."

For the uninitiated, there are two basic points that will help to make sense of all this -

1) Clare Balding was technically correct - all Scottish athletes at the Olympics represent Great Britain, and Great Britain only, whether they like it or not.

2) Rhona Howie's slip was entirely innocent and understandable.  Every single person who has ever represented Great Britain at the Olympics in curling has been Scottish.  In every four-year cycle, there are nine major international curling events - four World Championships, four European Championships and one Olympic Games.  In eight of those nine, Scottish curlers represent Scotland.  It's only in the other one of the nine - the Olympics - that they represent Great Britain.  All of the GB curlers in the current Olympics represented Scotland at the European Championships just a few short weeks ago, and as it happens they all won medals for Scotland - the women took the gold, and the men took the silver.

All of that being true, the natural thing for Balding to do would have been to casually say "Great Britain, you mean?", in which case Howie would have said "Great Britain, sorry", and there would have been no great fuss.  But it's pretty obvious that either Balding or the person delivering instructions in her earpiece was 'triggered' by Howie's slip.  They felt that mistakenly referring to Great Britain as Scotland was something that had happened far too often, and they were sick of it, and it needed to be made an example of, and stamped out once and for all.  All of which raised a few eyebrows in Scotland, because in our whole lifetimes you could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times a BBC presenter, commentator or summariser has ever referred to a Great Britain team as 'Scotland', whereas the BBC referring to Great Britain as 'England' happens as a matter of routine.  For example, last year, BBC Sport's official Twitter account tweeted about the "England" team in the Davis Cup - a truly jaw-dropping blunder given that Scottish players (including the not-exactly-obscure Andy Murray) have been the backbone of the Great Britain team in the Davis Cup for several years.  The tweet was eventually deleted, but I don't recall the person responsible for it being hauled onto our TV screens and forced to issue a humiliating apology.  There have been countless occasions when presenters such as Balding herself or John Inverdale have been guilty of the 'England' slip without making any sort of acknowledgement, apology or correction.

And yet we're expected to accept that the word Scotland being used too often is THE major problem that simply MUST be tackled by the BBC and be SEEN to be tackled?  I almost wonder if there is something rather sinister and political going on here.

I've been watching quite a bit of the BBC's Olympic curling coverage, and even before the Balding incident I had the distinct impression that some sort of edict had gone out strongly discouraging the commentators from using the words 'Scotland' and 'Scottish', in spite of the unavoidable Scottishness on prominent display before their eyes.  What made it obvious was Steve Cram's tortuous explanation of why Great Britain were absent from the new mixed doubles competition, which somehow managed to avoid making any mention of the fact that it was the Scotland team's responsibility to try to qualify Great Britain for the Games, and that they had narrowly failed.  But I suppose if you acknowledge Scotland's official role in the Olympic qualification process, you must also acknowledge that any medals won would effectively be a Scottish as well as a British effort...and that would never do, would it?  The only time I can recall hearing the existence of a Scotland curling team being mentioned in commentary was when Logan Gray launched into a prolonged anecdote about the use of corn brooms in the famous Canada v Scotland final at the 1991 World Championships.  "Really?" said Steve Cram in a disinterested tone, as he apparently tried to shut Gray down.

The double standard is simply breathtaking.  In a couple of months' time, the 2018 Commonwealth Games will take place in Australia.  There will be no Team GB at the event.  Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey will all compete as entirely separate teams.  And yet, on past form, the BBC presenters including Balding herself will try to downplay that division as a meaningless technicality, and will routinely refer to Scottish medals as "more success for the Home Nations".  You might remember that at Glasgow 2014, Matthew Pinsent (I think it was him, anyway) fronted a package that considered how "British" athletes' form at the Games might translate into success for Team GB once the temporary segregation was over - and remarkably didn't once acknowledge the elephant in the room, namely that Scotland was only a few weeks away from a referendum on independence that could have meant Scottish athletes would no longer compete for Team GB.  A "No" vote was, it seems, simply being taken as a given by BBC Sport.

But who knows, eh?  Perhaps Clare Balding has turned over a new leaf, and will sternly knock that sort of nonsense on the head in future.  Without fear or favour, Clare, without fear or favour.  Perish the thought that there is any sort of agenda here.

82 comments:

  1. Says the person commenting at 3.51am!

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  2. BBC's Jackie Lockhart commentating on men's Olympic Curling, 15/2/18. " To be honest. I think. As long as they (Japan) get it in house and force Scotlasd to take the one. (Pause) It's Great Britain. Is'na Scotland. My apologies... Team GB" I am convinced that was not self-correction but a voice in the Scottish commentator's earpiece. I tweeted about it just after playing back the segment several times to note it down. Aye, as usual, 'England' and 'Britain' can be interchanged at a whim but don't dare say 'Scotland' might be part of this 'Team GB'.

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    1. What the heck. A Swiss colleague and avid curler referred to the Scottish team as Engländer. And such the Scottish will be until they pluck up the guts to become an independent nation. As long as you’re playing for someone else‘s team, you go by their name. Team UK, Team GB? Let’s be honest, it‘s Team England.

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    2. A valid point, Anonymous.

      We can bump our gums about all the curlers being Scottish - which they are - but they are currently representing GB and until we vote Yes, there's nothing we can sadly do about it.

      The BBC hack me off so much with their coverage, that I refuse to watch them and pluck for Eurosport or a foreign broadcaster.

      I'm so envious of Ireland in many ways, but they have their own team there - 5 athletes, I think 3 of them are of the Irish diaspora/heritage and 2 from the emerald isle. They probably will not win a medal either, but I'd prefer to see an indy Scotland as such at the summer games!

      The most annoying thing about intermingling between GB and England is not just people from outwith the UK doing it, but actual English people doing it! I worked with a guy from one of the Home Counties abroad and he'd often ask me when I was going back to 'England' and I'd say ´Scotland´is where I'm going, he would then indicate that was what he meant "England/GB/Scotland"

      I can't get behind the GB thing either, I'm afraid. Good luck to all the athletes representing team GB and so on, but it's not my team.

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  3. I think there indeed is more sinister thinking behind this whole MSM onslaught across Scotland.
    They are keen to eradicate the notion of Scotland being a separate nation in international eyes so they can then eradicate Scotland's identity and therefore negate any challenge to their Wastemonster colonial administration in the international courts.
    This would then allow them to legally continue their plunder of Scotland's wealth and dismiss indyref2.

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  4. I would be infuriated like you, James, if I had watched the clip. But seeing as I knew it wouldn't do my blood pressure any good I've settled for merely being annoyed after reading your post. But what you have recounted is precisely why I've got zero interest in watching any sport via the BBC & have therefore nearby forgotten the Olympics is actually on as I've watched none of it. Not bad going for someone with qualifications in sports science, eh?

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    1. Eurosport are also covering the Olympics and doing a better job of it as usual. They cover the actual sport as it is being played while the BBC will have Heather interview somebody at length while the sport is being ignored.

      I never watch sport on the Beeb if Eurosport are covering it. The same effect is very prevalent wrt the snooker.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Sinister you say…? That video at the link James gives doesn't play.

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    1. It's still working OK as far as I can see.

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    2. Was Claire Balding technically correct? Surely the team is Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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    3. If it isn't working in your twitter try on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSz1cCcaAXA

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    4. Interestingly...

      Comments have been disabled for this video..."

      I'll just leave that here...

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    5. My thanks to Ken McColl – the youtube link worked.

      Patronising is the word…

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    6. Grenada, yes you could say She was correct. It is Team GB. But why then is it ok to sa mention it was an Englis speed skater.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. At the end of the day "British Curling" or "the GB curling team" are phrases that make absolutely no sense.

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  8. Just a couple of days ago I was watching some ice skating on BBC2. Hazel Irvine (a Scot) was in the studio interviewing Chris Dean (of Torvill & Dean fame) about the various skaters competing at these games which he had coached. Chris reeled off a list of various countries and finished off with "as well as England". There was no correction, not an eye was batted, and the show went on.

    Double standard?

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  9. Aye,That'll be #Overruled again.
    Like a Union Jack bag o tatties grown in Perthshire. Deliberate trend.
    Who's pulling the strings?

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  10. An example how second class citizens are put into place. If we were equals within the UK our nationality would have been talked about with pride.

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  11. My partner watched last night as the Scottish team curlers, one of whom we know personally, beat Denmark and watched aghast as not one single mention was made on Sky a short time ago. Yeah, I wasn't shocked btw as I've no illusions left at all.

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  12. If there is such a thing as a phobia then you jocko fash have it. We can add Russophobia and Englishphobia to the seemingly endless list coming from braindead PC fanatics.

    At least the Labour/Tory led North Lanarkshire Council are attempting to feed its children inspite of Tartan Tory policies that are impoverishing the community.

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  13. We'll be feeding and nurturing ALL the bairns of Scotland when we win our freedom.
    Your own phobia is the Scottish cringe
    You think somebody is shovelling gold over the border.
    The last time that happened was in 1707
    Away and learn yer history!

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    1. The only things you Nat si Tartan Tories are nurturing is the rich and Stagecoach.

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    2. State of this.

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    3. You jocko nat sis need to sod off back up to Shitholistan and stay their with that knickerla dog.

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    4. State of this.

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    5. Why dont you jocko nat sis play under youre israel flag or youre mate adolfs flag. flag fags

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    6. State of this.

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  14. Of course, in times gone by Scotland was allowed to represent itself in the Olympics in various sports, for instance Scotland won bronze (shared with Wales) in hockey in 1908; and in 1912 the Scottish cycling team came fourth.

    All this before the establishment of the Republic of Ireland in 1922 when the British state was more as ease with itself. The First World War and Irish partition stopped this relaxed attitude.

    Its evidently not any more relaxed in its attitude today. The BBC's response - as the cheerleaders of the British state - shows that the attitude today is one of hypertension caused by Brexit and support for Scottish independence remaining high.

    In some ways its heartening to see the BBC at its most reactionary. Its not the mark of confidence in an British state. They know that the future of the UK as we know it is on a knife-edge.

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  15. I have been noticing recently that whenever BBC Scotland does a Vox Pop piece, the people *whose comments are chosen to actually be aired* predominantly have English accents.

    I believe that statistically around 20% of the Scottish population are of English origin but the good old BBC seem to engineer the broadcast to make it appear more like 80%.

    If I had the time or inclination to sit through BBC Scotland's output for a day I'm sure the statistics would be startling! Maybe somebody out there will try it.

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    1. Possibly Edinburgh is 20% English, but Scotland is around 9-10% English on a whole.

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    2. That makes it even *worse*!

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  16. The British nationalist media ignores Scotland's curlers all the time - except if there's a chance during an olympics that England's national anthem will be played after a Scots' win.

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  17. And anyway, it wasn't for Balding or the BBC to "correct her". None of their business.

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    1. McGowan, go hame tae Athenry they are short of Jolly Plough boy's.

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    2. State of this.

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  18. England are brought up as British , they don't see how it sometimes insults
    Scotland

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  19. The BBC are totally unbiased and probably the best TV and Radio in the World. They sponsor River City which is probably the best soap in the World although subitles would be helpful. Then there is Sportscene which is heavily subsidised when you consider Jock fitbae is pure pish. The BBC are fair and balanced like Fox News.

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    1. Yes. That‘s our resident fool. We feed him now and then to makes sure he doesn’t whither away and die.

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    2. I've always thought you were a rubbish wind up merchant, GWC2. But that is genuinely hilarious.

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    3. An here wis me thinkin ah wis feeding you lot of nat sis an giving you a purpose in life. Ah get ma humour oan ra buses. Four wummin goat oan at ra Quay Bingo today an I knew when gettin aff every f,n ilness they had an their ospital appointment dates. Every wan slagged aff their Doktor for not gettin appointments oan demand. Hilarious it wis.

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    4. State of this.

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    5. I watched you nat sis trying to open a bag of crisps. Loosers.

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    6. State of this.

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    7. Thats what you say. This is what i say - shove it you nat sis tory lovers. Richard branson you love him.

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    8. State of this.

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  20. I have stopped listening to BBC Radio Scotland in the mornings. Scottish accents are in the minority.

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  21. Heard a young boy on TV describe his hometown Hartlepool as being in the North East of the UK. They really haven't a clue. Or is Scotland not in the UK ....now. This was Child Genius would hate to see their Geography class.

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    1. Considering the Scottish nat sis want Germany to rule us economically then geography hardly matters and as for Hartlepool it is no different from Banff where people are waiting to be discovered.

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    2. State of this.

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    3. I did it with you sister in a bus shelter. And your grannie watched.

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    4. GWC2, I'm sure I saw a donkey doing it with you and you were enjoying it you sad person.

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    5. Am hung like a dunkie, the Jock wummin are waiting in line for a meat injection.

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    6. State of this.

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    7. You probably waiting for a meat injection too. Right up youre haggis patch. Get ready nat si.

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    8. State of this.

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  22. Basically I agree, but the thing to emphasise is not "I wonder if she would do that if it were England" (though I doubt she would) but the attempt to develop/ create/ impose (delete whatever is deemed unnecessary) a "British" identity and any sense of difference, which is kind of odd in what we are told is a Union of four nations - one might have thought there were some differences by definition.

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  23. If you choose to compete under the Union flag/team GB banner you have chosen to represent England(afraid so Andy Murray)play to represent yourselves people, I believe there are Russian athletes competing under the Olympic Flag.Christ,the SFA have just appointed a manager (Alex Mcleish who believes politically Scotland is best governed from England, how the heck can he be trusted to give 100% against any of Scotland's sporting opponents never mind England. ABGB is a good philosophy to live by.

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  24. I heard about this incident and watched the clip. I'm glad Rhona Martin said "sorry". It's reminds us Scots of our position in the UK. That's all of us Scots, even the ones who think they're exempt because they're loyal jocks and mouth the acceptable mantras.

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  25. Hey James the Six Day War was a defensive measure by Israel. The surrounding Isalamic Fascist nations wanted to wipe out Israel and finish what your old German pal Adolf failed to do.. The military preemptive strikes by Israel was military genious.

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    1. State of this.

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    2. Yeah all of them. Nat sis and your old Arab pals with the Jews.

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    3. State of this.

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    4. Shut up state of this. State of you.

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    5. State of this.

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  26. Coatbridge Scottish Nat sis (Formerly Irish) send Gas Bill to Jerusalem.

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  27. The ubiquitous Claire Balding was the main studio anchor for the Channel4 presentation of the women's football Euro2017 final between Netherlands and Denmark. After some irritatingly frequent references to a team which wasn't playing that day, I started counting references to English players or teams. The programme managed 57 altogether - mostly brief, but sometimes more extended. Claire Balding didn't manage this all herself, of course; she had a lot of help from the stadium commentators Steve Bower and (ex-England international) Lucy Ward. we had -
    - 14 from the studio, pre-match;
    - 4 from the stadium commentators pre-match
    - 19 from the stadium commentators in the first half
    - 0 during half-time (poor show, but remember about 9 mins of adverts)
    - 10 from the stadium commentators in the second half
    - 11 post-match.
    Total 57.

    There was an element of tournament review in the 30min segments before and after the game itself - so a few references would be understandable (although "tournament review" of course is about 80% about England). But I don't suppose it would have occurred to any of the presenters that 31 references to England during the match commentary might be a bit disrespectful to the teams actually playing.

    This is not a BBC, or a Channel4, or Clare Balding phenomenon. I watch a lot of German Bundesliga games on BT Sport, and it's pretty average that by half-time, I've heard a dozen of more references to the Premiership or English football. The commentator must think that while I'm watching German football, the most important thing I need to know about any of the payers is whether he used to play in England, or, if there's no connection to dig up, can we have a discussion about whether he might be good enough to play in the Premiership. Or can we get out our "how what that have work in the premiership" yardstick out for anything.

    Is this all down to the media people? Or does the audience demand this level of jingoism?

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  28. Wonder how many Jock nat sis cooperated with the Stasi moreso those Jockos who wanted British nuclear disarmament but not the Soviets. Maybe Kim Jung Eck will get a mention.
    And where has nat si in chief David Francis been lately? Visiting his old home in Cardross Seminar maybe!

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  29. Contrary to most of the comments on the thread, this doesn’t bother me at all. In fact I am very cheered by it. If the Brit Nats were more confident, they would be more relaxed. They are the very opposite of relaxed: they are displaying all the classic signs of stress. More please!

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