Comment: Go forth Scotland!

Sport Business News

Why the 2014 Commonwealth Games will be the icing on what is already a well–baked and tasteful cake, according to Mickey Charles president and CEO of The Sports Network (TSN) .

Does being on the world stage guarantee applause and lots of money? Even if the performance is first–rate, lots of hand clapping and monies coming in from far and wide, it is quite possible, more likely, that it will be a one–night stand, one week or more, even just a weekend. Then what? Then the earth continues to rotate on its axis, the sun comes up on schedule, life goes on as it did before and that leads to lots of head scratching. What will the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup do for Scotland in 2014 aside from that large spotlight shining down on Auld Reekie. For those who are unaware of it, Scots among you, that means Old Smoky in Scottish because, in olden days, when other means of modern fuel were unavailable, chimneys would give lots of smoke . . . or Caledonia, as the Romans referred to it before it became Scotland. In any case, once the light dims and the 71 countries and territories participating in the Commonwealth Games take their 6, 500 plus athletes home what does the biggest multi–sports event that Scotland has ever hosted leave behind in Glasgow and the country at large? Right, lots of trash that has to be removed, but what else? It is not that long an event, 23 July to 3 August. But will it – and the 2012 Olympics – create lasting benefits for Scotland as all over there are hoping will be the case, physically, culturally, economically and socially? If youve not been to Scotland let me say that they are among the nicest and most cordial folks you will ever meet so not sure there is much room for improvement there and now you know if you did not earlier. The landscape will change, but not really – only in terms of roads, transportation, venue, buildings and then what when all is said and done? Lots of echo chambers might be left behind. I cannot fathom their already magnificent culture being altered significantly in any way, history being rewritten other than their now being known as the host country for this event and a few others. Economically there will be dollars flowing like a faucet that cannot be turned off. And, like predecessors before them, countries that have hosted other international events, prices on everything will escalate and the tourists, the attendees, will reach into their wallets for every memory they can take home. People have a lifestyle with which they are happy. It is the case everywhere. Look around you. Determine how most of you have settled into your existence, your routine, accepted it for the most part while welcoming any small improvement that comes your way. But, in reality, contentment reigns supreme. The Scots will not suddenly become more active and frenzied when the athletes go home. The dust will settle, literally and figuratively, normalcy will return and memories will be placed in albums or spoken about in pubs for the next few months and then the norm prevails. Cynical? You tell me. Look in the mirror and be honest if you are sitting in Scotland right now. Many will be involved, volunteers and companies, shopkeepers, individuals earning a few more pounds during the event. Then what? Spend it and be happy. Will the pace of the Games continue when they are gone? Do not be deceived. It will not. Scotland is a great place to live, work and visit. That is a well–known fact. It will be enhanced by the Games but these are not Games for local business to show their wares. They are for the athletes and the rest of the world to watch and cheer for their own, most from in front of the tube. The Scots do not need the Games to engender pride in themselves and their history nor will the Games bring any of them closer together. They already bond quite well without help from the outside and their heritage, if anyone cares to do a bit of reading, speaks for itself. The fact of the matter is that the Games are a very expensive ad for the country and Glasgow in particular. Both will benefit from the expanded exposure on an international stage when the curtain goes up. There is no contesting that and to do so would be folly. My point is that the Games are icing on what is already a well–baked and tasteful cake. They are not a negative but the expectancies they will bring already exist. It is just a matter of turning on the spotlight. No problem. The Commonwealth Games are being held in Scotland for the third time – 1970 and 1986 having preceded these of 2014. The £288m budget will be exceeded. Already the case. It is the nature of hosting events such as this one despite the fact that 70% of the venues are already in place. But now comes a new velodrome and indoor arena. The largest city in Scotland figures to see a great many of its home–grown talents taking home gold and that means the youth in attendance will be properly prepped for dreaming of what can be if they apply themselves to capture personal and national pride, to achieve the too often thought of unachievable. They will all be complemented by the 40th Ryder Cup as Gleneagles becomes the host course for one of the worlds major sporting events – pitting the US against Europe, not a surprising match–up. The prestige of the acknowledged home of golf will take centre stage once again and Beat the Yanks will echo from north to south, east to west throughout Europe. The Centenary Course at Gleaneagles in Perthshire will test many as will the weather if it chooses to add a further degree of difficulty to the hazards already in place. Plans for this encounter have been going on since 2001 by all those involved and it will be the first time in more than four decades that the Ryder Cup has been staged in Scotland with more than 45, 000 expected to be in attendance. I have played Gleneagles and can assure all that a walk in the park from the tips is not on the calendar for this five–star course. All seem cordial enough towards one another before the first group tees off but rest assured that there is no love lost between the US and Europe once the match–ups are underway. Animosity? Not really. Fervour, pride and an immense inner desire to take the Cup home lights the fires of both groups. If the Americans simply adapt the attitude of the European contingent and play as a team, as partners, as friends (which many are not) and with an immense degree of national pride, they will win. All they have to do is leave mental images of endorsements, private jets, huge bank accounts, resort mansions, ego and arrogance back home. If you play golf and have never visited Scotland then you are, in fact, someone that loves music but has never been to a concert of your favourite artist or a Broadway review. Impossible to believe. Golf had its early beginnings 400 years ago and it was the Scots that thought it up. Traditionalists would rather see these folks playing a links course, like Turnberry or Carnoustie but couple either of those with the winds from being at the seaside and you have the equivalent of an NFL game in a blinding snowstorm, baseball in the rain, basketball on a course with slippery wet spots or hockey on ice that is not entirely frozen. Familial and inveterate but not practical. That is why they chose September, to advantage better weather but prayer will play a major role here. Golf. Scotland. Scotland. Golf. What more need be said? The Ryder Cup will harvest, once again, the reputation of Scotland as the centre of the universe for golfers, in the traditional fashion while not lessening the level of courses available anywhere else, particularly in the US – from Oakmont to The Boulders and Troon North, Pebble Beach and Olympic not to mention countless others. Revenue projections are over £100m. This will also be sports' third biggest event in terms of TV and media coverage over the six days it is held. All stops are being pulled out for this one – advertising, media campaigns, new web site, online interactive game and contacting every tourist group they can but garnering the crowd will be the same as breathing for those of us that are healthy. Piece of cake – royal wedding style. Golf tourism accounts for more than $300m pounds annually to Scotland. Need I say more? Oh yes, Edinburgh lost money on the Commonwealth Games of 1986. Glasgow will earn money and the Ryder Cup will be successful. It is the after–effect that everyone talks about and then suddenly forgets about when all is said and done. That is the nature of things despite the inquiring questions of the media and those burdened with accounting. Go have fun Scotland, enjoy it all, bask in the sunlight of sports and be careful not to get burned, just tanned and looking good. It is your time although you have nothing to prove, just to remind everyone that you are there and tell them why to come visit, come stay. Simple. Like making a two–foot putt. "About Mickey CharlesMickey Charles is president and CEO of real–time sports wire service The Sports Network (TSN), based in Philadelphia, US. For further information about The Sports Network, visit: www. sportsnetwork. com. The Sports Network2200 Byberry RdHatboro, PA 19040 Tel: +1 (215) 441–8444 Fax: +1 (215) 441–5767

Additional information