Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Great Scot, Andy Murray's a Great Brit too...

Sean Connery has been in the news again. Along with Sir Alex Ferguson, he's been in New York supporting Andy Murray in the last major of the year, the US Open.

Sir Sean and Sir Alex interupted a press conference to congratulate Murray on winning his semi-final achievements and to - bizarrely - announce that Scotland had invented the world. (Scots may have invented many things but I'm not entirely sure the world was one of them.)

Murray followed up that win with a five set thriller against Novak Djokovic, coming out victorious after near-enough five hours of play. After four previous attempts, he demonstrated the same steel that saw him achieve Olympic Gold against Federer. 

Over the past few years, we've seen Murray mature physically, become less temperamental and become much stronger mentally. We've also seen him demonstrate just how much he wants to win - whether that be through the tears shed after he lost Wimbledon, or the single-minded play that took him to two Olympic medals.

As he has developed as a player and a person, he has become increasingly liked and respected by the public at large. And, of course, he has increasingly become "British" as opposed to "Scottish". Something which Sir Sean takes umbrage at when asked about his success:
"I always felt he had everything and now it's really come to fruition. I met him for the first time a couple of days ago. It's great for Scotland. We've had a really great landslide victory. And stop saying he's British, he's Scottish. I have to go now because the champion is waiting." (emphasis mine)

But why does it have to be either/or? Murray is British as well as Scottish, Scottish as well as British. It's a false dichotomy which many - on both sides of the border - are all too willing to play up. Why do we feel the need to polarise things?

Of course, polarised stories provide a narrative which real life doesn't slot into. In so many walks of life the media story is portrayed as good v. evil, right v. wrong, moral v. immoral when the reality is infinitely more nuanced. It's one of the reasons I don't blog on politics as much as I want to - but so often when a big issue comes out I can see good points and bad points on both sides of any given argument. Politics thrives on creating a polarisation of the issues - practical solutions depend on a more pragmatic approach.

But I digress - why can't I, Murray and millions of other Scots have a dual-identity. If these past few weeks have shown us anything, it is that Britain can be great - it can deliver international sporting events and infrastructure to the highest standard and it can deliver world class sporting performances. Athletes who can come together and contribute to the success of one TeamGB (and I include in that our ParalympicsGB team).

It has shown that the Scots, the Cornish, the Northern Irish, the Welsh, Manx Islanders, the Yorkshirish* can come together for a common goal while retaining different identities. It really isn't that hard a concept.

I'm happy to see Murray referred to as either or both, as long as it's done consistently whether he's won or lost. [A note to my English readers, though: no matter how much you try and make out you're just joking about him being British when winning/ a Scot when losing, it really isn't that funny anymore (and never was). It's time to move on.]

So here's to Andy Murray - a Great Scot and a Great Brit - and here's to many more Major wins! 


*Made up word, obviously.

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