Hamill’s Beat - Rooting for ‘Team GB’ at the top of the people’s games

The “Team GB” thing is hard to stick. It’s overplayed. The BBC, in particular, never give their “Team GB” theme a rest. It didn’t grate as much when the action was far away with the bicycles in Beijing but now that it’s much closer to home, the fixation with “Team GB” is irritating.

The games aren’t meant to be about jingoism. They’re not meant to be a national war effort more promising than the hopeless intervention in Afghanistan. They’re not meant to provide a feel good factor for politicians in the midst of a double-dip recession.

And, they’re not there to boost sports fans’ morale after yet more poor performances in football and swimming. The Olympics aren’t meant to be an exercise in patriotism. And they’re not meant to be about David Cameron’s favourite hymn, ‘Jerusalem’. (Incidentally the hymn asks four questions and the answer to all of them is, “No”.)

The games are just meant to be about different sports.

In any case, even unionists know that “Team GB” is a misnomer, unless it was meant to exclude Nrn Irn.

No part of Ireland is in Great Britain and if “Team GB” was meant to be inclusive it should have been, “Team UK.” Don’t unionists ever get the message? Don’t they know when they’re not wanted?

Most sports here, apart from soccer are, thankfully, still organised on their pre-partition basis. So it is with my own sport of rowing.

The fact that three rowers from Coleraine are competing for “Team GB” merely reflects the fact that they went to college over there. It would be silly to make a fuss about that.

I support them, particularly Alan Campbell as I once coached him. In any case, Irish rowing is enduring a lean spell at the top level whereas the British squad is strong and well funded.

I wish all athletes from Ireland well, no matter what team they play for.

Incidentally, isn’t it good that the British royals did so well in the lottery for tickets? Using a lottery meant that thousands of genuine fans lost out to the simply curious but, as usual, the ‘top’ people had all the luck. (There we were naively thinking the Olympics were about fair play.) Where two or three thousand are gathered together in the name of sport, there’s Dutchess Kate ‘Middleo’them’ with her in-laws. Wasn’t she at Wimbledon as well?

It’s just as well they don’t have jobs to go to. Does that sound bitter? Well yes, there is a bitter element about these Olympics.

Of course, the “Team GB” thing is only a domestic marketing ploy.

That’s why we don’t ‘get’ it here in Ireland anymore than those in other European countries.

The ‘Sunday Times’ reported on the reaction in the foreign press. For instance, German broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung paid a tribute to British sports fans. “They have experienced the failure of generations of their compatriots in sports such as tennis or football – but they’ve never lost the enthusiasm for watching the matches,” it said. Ouch!

Even the Italian paper, ‘La Repubblica’ put the boot in. They had a piece about the recession and corrupt politicians – in Britain!

It talked about Britain being nasty, “towards foreigners who made its wealth, and always more Eurosceptic and closed in on itself” No talk about, “Team GB” there then!