Sunday, 30 March 2014

Highland Games: a (mostly) Sunday Shoe Story

There are a lot of things that I love about being Scottish - tartans, topaz rings, the Scottish Play, shortbread, bagpipes, Robbie Burns to name a few - but I have never understood Scottish sports. Most people wouldn’t make the connection, but some of the world’s most popular sports have their roots in the Highlands. What intrigues me about Scotland’s most popular sports is that each has a rather unique fashion style associated with it. 

The point of golf has always eluded me. I can’t imagine that it’s any fun to hit a tiny ball with an oddly shaped stick across an entire field in the hopes of getting said tiny ball into a tiny hole. Even the traditional Scotch at the end isn’t enough to convince me that I should slog around an 18-hole course. Though I will admit to being intrigued by the idea of point-treaded shoes. Allegedly, they’re to stop the golfers from sliding around the mucky sod (golf happens regardless of rain or shine, and I can just imagine my ancestors uttering a hearty Scottish slur as they followed the mud down the side of a not-so-steep-seeming glen into a natural water trap between hills), but they seem altogether handy when considering my interest in warding off unwanted advances from odd men. Or kicking you opponent in the shins and running on ahead. What do you mean, golf isn’t supposed to be a contact sport? 

Golf definitely has a reputation for being a dapper sport.
Fore, old chap!

Curling, one of the many Scottish ice sports, has been in the news quite a bit lately due to the antics of the Norwegian Olympic team. These enterprising young guys were thrust into the sartorial spotlight seemingly by accident (the original funky-print pants were a result of mixed up shipping), but they kept up the theme to give themselves something to laugh at on the ice. Considering how intense some skips (the team captain) can get, I think that their joke is a good relaxation tactic as well as an ingenious marketing ploy!

Aren't they just adorable? (And ridiculous)

Now I wouldn’t be doing justice to my Scottish forebears if I didn’t mention the most ubiquitous of all Scottish sports: the caber toss. For those of you not in the know, it basically involves taking a giant tree trunk and tossing it so that it lands in a line directly forward of the thrower. The sport seems to be a test in accuracy, but it seems to me to be a test in ridiculosity. Did I mention that the traditional garb is the kilt? Clearly the Scots have their own idea of what makes a manly man, and it usually involves doing silly things in a skirt. Good on you, ancestors. 

Now bowling is a sport that I can get behind! It may have it’s modern roots from the Roman Empire, but the Scottish were the ones who standardised a lot of the rules, so I count it as an excellent example of Scottish sport. Like golf, curling, and the caber toss, bowling is a non-contact sport and basically involves throwing things at other things, so the destructive 2-year-old in all of us can get his/her satisfaction. Plus we get to wear ridiculous (often two-toned) shoes! My friends and I usually take this (as well as the oft-present disco theme and tacky/awesome 90s music) as our cue to concoct ridiculously themed group outfits. Glittery dresses, gangster wear, all white, and prom dresses have been some of our previous get-ups, and chances are we’ll continue to come up with even more themes as we go on. 

images from Tumblr and here

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