In the stands of a soccer stadium, fans of the rival clubs Rangers and Celtic can be seen displaying their respective team colors, white and green for Celtic, red, white, and blue for Rangers.
The rivalry between Scottish soccer clubs Rangers and Celtic is infused with political meanings related to religion, ethnicity, and nationalism (photo via International Business Times).

Elite soccer in Scotland operates within a relatively small financial domain compared to wealthier soccer countries like Italy, England, Spain, and Germany. Nevertheless, soccer remains the country’s dominant team sport, with attendances in Scotland’s top league the highest in Europe when population size is considered. Soccer in Scotland is largely dominated by two famous institutions: Rangers, a club and fanbase with a definitive anti-Catholic history and tradition, and Celtic, a club founded by Irish Catholic immigrants. Approximately 70% of fans in Scottish soccer devote allegiance to either of these two clubs. The histories of Rangers and Celtic, and the rivalry between them, also means they have millions of supporters around the globe, especially, though not solely, where Irish Catholic and Scottish Protestant immigrants have settled during the latter 20th and early 21st centuries.

From a sociological standpoint, it’s important to understand how communal memory contributes to this great and storied rivalry. For many supporters of Rangers and Celtic, such memory is infused with politics, religion, history, ethno-religious discrimination, colonialism, and anti-colonialism.

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A black and white photo shows a stairwell at Ibrox Stadium in 1971 in which workers clear away debris.
Workers clear barricades from Ibrox stadium’s stairway 13, site of the 1971 crowd disaster that killed 66 spectators. (photo via The Scotsman)

Numerous European attendance records have been set at soccer matches in Glasgow, Scotland; 147,365 spectators attended the 1937 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park, 149,415 were at the 1937 Scotland vs England match, and 136,505 attended Celtic vs Leeds United in 1970. In all these instances, supporters—the vast majority working class men—stood on steep, mostly uncovered, terraces. Such a design characterised virtually all British soccer stadiums at the time. Getting as many people as possible into the stadium meant little regard for sanitation, comfort, provision of food, and safety.

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Celtic FC players in green and white striped jerseys raise their arms in celebration on a soccer field
Celtic FC players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Inter Milan in the 1967 European Cup (AP/Press Association Images via Celtic Quick News)

While St. Patrick’s Day gives people of Irish descent around the world an opportunity to celebrate their heritage, soccer serves a key role with regard to Irish ethnicity in Scotland—and on a much more frequent basis than once a year. To help understand this we need to go back to May 25, 1967, when Celtic Football Club of Scotland defeated Inter Milan, 2-1, to become the first club from outside of Spain, Portugal, or Italy to win the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League). Recognised as the most prestigious soccer trophy in Europe, only 22 clubs have managed to win it since its initiation in 1956.

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Michael Forbes was among those who resisted the construction of Trump International Golf Links Scotland (photo from Getty Images)

There is a thesis that Donald Trump’s presidency has a silver lining in inadvertently laying bare the source and extent of many contemporary problems.

This can be named the Wake-Up Call Thesis. It was expressed, for example, by Baltimore Sun columnist Tricia Bishop: “This social media president has brought our faults to the surface for all to see. So now, instead of expending energy to hide them, perhaps we can start addressing them.”

Whether this thesis bears out – that is, whether the harsh realities of a Trump presidency will alert us to long-standing problems that have been largely ignored or dismissed – remains to be seen. Moreover, Trump opponents might well argue that any silver linings are still features of the storm cloud of his presidency. But, if the first step in solving a problem is admitting its existence, the Wake-Up Call Thesis is intriguing.

As researchers studying sport and the environment – and as researchers who have had our own “encounter” with Trump – the Wake-Up Call Thesis piqued our attention. Is there a silver lining in Trump’s fraught relationship with sport, and with golf in particular?

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Photo from Deadspin. Taken by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

The recently knighted Scotsman and new world-number-one-ranked tennis player, Andy Murray, will be entering the Australian Open with his confidence sky-high, looking to start this year just as he ended the last. After defeating Novak Djokovic in the end-of-season ATP Tour final in November and, perhaps most crucially, in the process, finishing above him in the world rankings, this might represent Murray’s best chance of winning “down under” after eleven previous attempts. In the event’s history, Murray is one of the best players ever to have not won here, despite reaching five finals (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016). All except for 2010 when he lost to Roger Federer, Murray has been defeated by Djokovic. This year, for a change, Murray will enter the event as top-seed and favourite, which is a position he has tended to relish.

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