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From Old Tom Morris to Andy Murray: an examination of the Scottishness of Scotland’s sporting celebrities

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journal contribution
posted on 03.12.2021, 14:02 by Alan BairnerAlan Bairner
This paper examines the concept of the sports celebrity in the context of Scotland with a specific focus on the impact of localised national discourses on their formation. Relatively few Scottish athletes have become celebrities perhaps because traditional Scottish cultural values have militated against the cultural elevation even of the most successful individuals. Having explained the cultural context, the paper proceeds to consider the role of Scotland’s golfing pioneers. There follows an examination of the significance of personal tragedy in the construction of other Scottish sports celebrities, with a particular emphasis on football based on nuanced, culturally specific and personal insights into Scottish society. The final section of the paper examines the celebrity status of a tennis player, Andy Murray, arguably Scotland’s greatest ever athlete. Tragedy, political acuity and a wry sense of humour have been combined in Murray’s celebrityhood which has, in turn, been consistently influenced by his dealings with the relationship between Britishness and Scottishness. The main theoretical contribution of the paper is situated in the argument that, although typologies of sports celebrity can be useful, we should not lose sight of the significance of local specificities, with the celebrities who are discussed belonging to three distinct eras in Scottish political development.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Celebrity Studies


1 - 16


Informa UK Limited


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© The authors

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Taylor and Francis under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at:

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Deposit date: 30 November 2021