I’m pleased the only part of my letter Bill Adams wishes to dispute (Punching well above our weight; SN,13/07/15) is the last paragraph, dealing with the favourable performances of autonomous island groups in the medals table.
First, I agree that Shetland “punches well above its weight” for the reasons I gave in my letter, namely, good use of oil money by the SIC on sports provision, the contribution of local organisers and the outstanding response of local sports people.
Bill hopes to intimidate us with talk of “non sequirurs” while telling only part of the story, himself. He imagines I had not considered the point fully, before writing.
His “magic formula” for success is “population” and he cites the relatively poor performances of autonomous, but incredibly remote, Greenland, and Aland to back his claim. If so, how does he account for the lowly position – seventh – of the Isle of Wight, population 140,000, 40 percent higher than Jersey (99,000) and nearly three times that of Faroe (50,000)?
And what about Ynys Mon (Anglesey – 70,000), who finished thirteenth? Greenland, the world’s biggest island, with the lowest population density, is about two thousand miles from anywhere and is mostly covered by ice – hardly a valid comparison to Shetland. Incidentally, Greenland finished one place above Orkney.
Another factor to consider is whether these autonomous islands send their top players or use the event to develop promising new ones. Faroe, for example, does not send her football team that competes in European international competitions.
In their first ever international football match, Faroe defeated Austria and later drew with both Scotland and Northern Ireland – “punching well above their weight”, perhaps, Bill?
Population and remoteness are factors but Bill is wrong to suggest that sporting success does not follow political autonomy and if we look at the populations of these islands, they are expanding rapidly.
Faroe has doubled since independence and Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have increased by 20-30 percent since the first Inter-island Games in 1985, a period during which Shetland’s has remained roughly constant.
My point about autonomy enabling Shetlanders to compete in events such as the Commonwealth Games is valid and still stands.