Journal Article


London 2012, Glasgow 2014 and athletes as political symbols: The precarious positioning of athletes within the evolving contemporary politics of the United Kingdom

Abstract

This article considers the implications for athletes who hold a position as a ‘political symbol’ in the context of the United Kingdom (UK), and specifically Scotland, particularly those who publicly stated their personal political opinions during the periods of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. These two major international sporting events were hosted during a period of political upheaval within the UK, evidenced in the return of Conservative-led Westminster governments in 2010, the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 and the referendum on European Union membership in 2016. English media coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games revealed a propensity to critically frame ‘Scottish’ athletes, competing in ‘Team GB’, as potential resistors to overt expressions of British nationalism. This centred on Scottish athletes who failed to sing the British national anthem. During the campaign for Scottish independence in 2014, the establishment of the pro-independence ‘Sport for Yes’ group sought to harness sporting issues and personalities in favour of Scottish independence. In contrast, the pro-union ‘Better Together’ campaign promoted athletes discussing the potential negative impact of Scottish independence on the funding and organisation of Scottish sport. Accordingly, by critically considering the discursive framing of athletes who publicly announce their political positions, this article provides a review of the political significance of such pronouncements amidst a politically fraught UK.

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Authors

Whigham, Stuart
Black, Jack

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work

Dates

Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-06-13


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License


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