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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 05/09/2008

I donít know much about football. I didnít even watch the game between Scotland and Macedonia where Scotland lost 1-0 but I did hear the commentaries afterwards and I was appalled. Various people were on the radio talking about how hopeless the team were; they lacked passion; they were useless; and we might as well resign ourselves to the fact that Scotland is not going to do well in this tournament.

Anyone who has paid attention to the content on this website, heard me talk or read my latest book Creating Confidence will know Iím no fan of unwarranted praise. I even believe that well-judged criticism can accelerate learning and that failure and mistakes are important learning experiences. In short, Iím no Pollyanna.

But in Scotland, at least where football is concerned, we are far too negative Ė far too quick to condemn and blame. If the Scottish players lacked passion and drive we have to ask why. The heat they played in would have been a big factor in their lacklustre performance. It is easy to say that as professionals they should have had a regime which meant they had acclimatised to the heat, but Iím sure the reality is somewhat different. There are other factors which may have undermined performance such as key players being unavailable for the game and a new manager.

It certainly canít help the players to know that their every move is being dissected and analysed by supercritical Scots back home. How many of us would find it difficult to shrug off the pressure of being watched by critical eyes as we go about our daily job? Under this critical gaze would we not become tongue-tied, ham-fisted and too self-conscious to perform well?

If the Scottish team is going to do better at football they need more genuine supporters. People who believe that they are trying their best. People who are prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt and who keep believing they can get better. There are many member of the Tartan Army who provide this type of support. However, it is time for more of the commentariat to understand that their negativity and tendency to whinge and blame is counterproductive and part of the problem not part of the solution.

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