writes SHANE FENTON
In the space of 11 days almost half of the Highland games in membership of the Scottish Highland Games Association[SHGA] have been cancelled.Since the first call off by Cupar on Monday 16th March there has been cancellations every day.
Up until Thursday [26th], 27 of the 59 SHGA members have decided to pull the plug as the uncertainty of the coronavirus continues. The SHGA season runs from mid-May until mid-September and already almost all of the games scheduled for May and June have made the sensible decision not to go ahead. In recent days the cancellations are now coming thick and fast for games scheduled in July and even the start of August.
A Highland games takes months to organise and many committees are realising there is now very little light at the end of the tunnel and feel it is not worth the effort to put in all the work then having to cancel nearer the time which inevitably then creates a logistical nightmare.
Many of the the games scheduled later in the season are rightly waiting to see if there is any change in the situation. Hopefully it's not the case, but I feel they may be just delaying the inevitable. With the current government social distancing regulations in place many games cannot even hold their regular committee meetings, others don't have the appetite at this time to carry on with the normal organising of their events.
Even if the restrictions are eased later in the summer there is likely to be some still in place longer term, most probably that of large gatherings which would affect all games.
Highland games won't be the top priority in the minds of many.You have to think of your own community, not all are Highland games fanatics like ourselves.Would they be happy that you are allowing visitors from all over the country and further afield to converge on their small town or village so soon after a World-wide pandemic, and no one has said it won't come back. This was one of the concerns we had to deal with at my own games at Markinch in deciding to cancel, with comments of that there will be a bigger crowd on the day than the population of the town.
You have to ask yourself would you feel comfortable or have the appetite to stage a Highland games only weeks after many people in the country, maybe from your region, have lost their lives.Would that be right?
Turning to the competitors, many are now having to train on their own with very little incentive of competiton at Highland games or mainstream events in the coming months, there is almost a sense of what are we training for. Crowds would almost certainly be affected with uncertainty still in the air and who knows what the overseas travel situation will be.
I love nothing better than going around the games circuit in the summer, I have been doing it for more years than I care to remember. I officiate and report on around 30 different games a season and it really saddens me to find ourselves in this situation. I like everyone look forward to the time everything returns to normal, however, at this difficult and uncertain time time, I don't really see the need for anyone looking for a reason to actually stage a Highland games.
[This is a personal view from an article i wrote for this weeks local papers in Fife, not that of the SHGA]
Published: 2020-03-26 16:19:18