An Analysis of Minority Indigenous Sports in Scotland
Fabian Zuleeg & Russell Whyte, DTZ
The full report is available in PDF format
This study was commissioned to assess the current contribution, impact and future potential of Scottish indigenous sports that currently have no established regime or existing public sector funding, and have relatively low participation.
These criteria led to the exclusion of a range of acknowledged Scottish indigenous sports (such as curling, golf and bowls), and, through a combination of desk research and consultations with key stakeholders, led to the focus of this study being on the following sports, approved by the research steering group:
· Highland Games- combining heavy events and light athletic competitions with other non-sporting
elements such as piping and storytelling;
· Back-hold wrestling - a technique in which opponents stand chest-to-chest, chins on each others right
shoulder and attempt to throw each other; and
· Quoiting - tossing of a weighted hoop towards a marker stake (or hob).
Perhaps due to their minority nature and informal organisational structures, there is very little published research relating to indigenous sports. Furthermore, their minority nature means that there are no directly comparable and robust participation statistics available through official sources such as SportScotland. Quantifiable data presented in this report is therefore largely based on the evidence from consultations, validated where possible with additional sources such as promotional brochures, newspapers and bespoke public sector reports. These estimates should thus be seen as broadly indicative rather than definitive, precise figures.
By definition, minority sports are limited in what they can contribute towards the objectives of individual public sector bodies, and thus have "fallen between chairs" when looking to access support, given that they do not meet the full requirements of either body. However, they do demonstrate a noticeable impact on a number of policy areas, which can be encouraged and sustained.
All of the assessed sports shared a common desire for official accreditation and recognition as a serious individual sport, rather than merely a component of Scotland's wider cultural offering. SportScotland recognises quoiting and back-hold wrestling (through affiliation with the Scottish Wrestling Association), but this is currently not an active relationship, with two-way communication between an established governing body and the public sector. This does not mean a funding relationship, as a number of governing bodies recognised by SportScotland are not receiving finance, but rather a means by which to access central advice and expertise on organisational issues.
Currently, these sports lack the type of central governing body, which can act as the correct vehicle with which to approach the public sector for funding. In each case, there is a need to build a stronger structure, bringing together the locally run events and clubs. One core barrier to financing is that "organisers (are) facing difficulties because they fall in between the requirements for many funding bodies", (Scottish Games Association, 17/07/2006). These indigenous sports can contribute benefits to a range of cross-cutting policy objectives, for example in areas such as sport, health, culture, community development and tourism, but are not exclusively associated with any of these areas.
Each of the researched indigenous sports are managed and delivered by volunteers. This gives rise to issues of sustainability and can also increase financial risk when it is borne by individuals, rather than established bodies with liability insurance. Furthermore, there is an increasing tendency for sports to be managed in a professional manner, and more support for those volunteers engaged in managing these sports might be appropriate.