On the way to work, I noticed an English flag flying outside of a pub. Realising that this isn’t normal in Scotland, a closer look revealed a Scottish, Welsh and Italian flag. Despite the absence of a French and Irish flag, I extrapolated that this meant that the Six Nations is coming. Now, normally, I’m not really into sport, but I am into countries, so this sort of tournament I can normally enjoy (generally, in the pub with a pint). But, it did occur to me that this will have an effect on the Scottish independence referendum.
Other than war, nothing builds patriotism quite like sport. I think that it’s s probably a well known stereotype of Scottish people that we are a pessimistic and defeatist lot. Admittedly, we do draw on a long and glorious history of defeats, both on the battlefield and the playing field. But a major Scottish sporting success could help create a wave of euphoria, much like the UK had experienced with the Olympics, that the Yes campaign could ride to victory.
The Six Nations may be Scotland’s best bet there, since we’re not represented separately at the Sochi Olympics (which isn’t exactly political gold) and we didn’t qualify for the World Cup (which, given the Scottish love of football would have probably guaranteed independence on its own). Of course, Scotland doesn’t have a history of poor sporting performance for nothing, and it seems a little unlikely that this will be the year we buck that trend. Still, this year, the SNP will have a little more riding on the game than usual.