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Can UK sporting bodies have the best interests of Scottish sportspeople at heart?

along-standing colleague sought my support over a gripe he had about the way one of the UK's sports governing bodies was treating Scottish journalists.

Kirsty Gilmour was forced to step outside the British system in order to focus on the Commmonwealth Games. Picture: Sammy Turner/SNS

He was irked because they were not only feeding information to London-based newspapers ahead of those in Scotland but had been unashamed when he demanded an explanation, telling him they felt they had to do to "look after the nationals" ahead of provincial outlets. Since he knows my long-standing view that those London-based papers are no more "national" in a UK sense than the Scottish titles, he anticipated enthusiastic support.

But it had been brought to my attention just a few days earlier that the complainant has been quite open in expressing certain political views of late, so he was surprised when he was instead met with cross-examination. Was he not, I asked, the same fellow who has recently been publicly promoting the Better Together campaign?

He is not a daft lad so there was a smile as he confirmed that he had been doing just that since he had a pretty good idea where this was going. Surely, I suggested, if he is in favour of Scotland being considered a province rather than a country he should be far more accepting than most of being treated that way.

It was, essentially, good-natured banter, but there was a wee edge to it and I have given it further thought in light of developments in two other sports this week.

First of those is the treatment of Kirsty Gilmour, the 20-year-old Scottish badminton player who has been forced to withdraw from GB Badminton's World Class Preparation Programme because they were not supporting her desire to focus on the once-in-a-lifetime chance that a home Commonwealth Games represents. Explaining their decision, officials of GB Badminton pretty much acknowledged that they see the Commonwealth Games as a significantly lesser event.

Gilmour, along with - thankfully for her - badmintonscotland and the Scottish Insitute of Sport, saw things differently so, as with Imogen Bankier before her, Britain's best singles player will now work outside of the British set up.

GB Badminton's performance director is, it should be noted, a Dane so may not appreciate the value of the Commonwealth Games, and perhaps their view has some traction in the wider scheme of things. Australian commentators have, after all, been known to sarcastically refer to them as "the school sports".

Yet for many of our youngsters the Games are the only opportunity to wear a Scotland vest at a high profile multi-sports competition and, for those who think Scotland is rather more than a province, that will be a source of pride.

It was also a desire to build Scottish identity that persuaded Bryan Morrice, chairman of Sk8scotland, the national governing body of ice skating, to give up his position as vice chairman of the British governing body, the National Ice Skating Association.

Until then, he was involved with both boards but he believed Scottish skating would be better served by its own governing body, and thus maximising opportunities for Scottish players and officials.

Instead he was to discover that - perfectly understandably - world skating's governing body, the International Skating Union, saw no reason to recognise Scotland as a separate country.

A further eight years on and he now feels there is no choice but to accept that Scottish interests are best served, as things currently stand, by accepting its status as a province and leaving NISA to get on with administering the sport for the whole of the UK from Nottingham.

There is, of course, a school of thought that Scottish sportspeople have the best of both worlds, which is all very well for the handful in the 'I'm all right Jack' brigade for whom that has been so.

Try telling that to Gimour and Bankier, though, when people were trying to force them to spend their lives in Milton Keynes rather than Glasgow, working under coaches they regarded as being less capable of helping them than Yvette Yun Luo, Scotland's national coach.

Beyond that, though, I wonder how much the referendum will stir things up with other global sporting bodies who instinctively see the world the same way as the ISU.

Basketball Scotland has recently agreed to relinquish its separate identity to merge with England and, while we may not consider basketball a major sport hereabouts, their decision may be the shape of things to come.

That certainly seemed to be the main reason that the Scottish Football Association was so determined not to be seen to be involved in Team GB football at the London Olympics. They know there are many at FIFA who regard the four votes - out of eight - on the International Football Association Board retained by the home nations as a ridiculous anomaly.

If, then, my chum who was so unhappy at being considered a second-class citizen gets his way at the referendum, he had better get used to receiving provincial treatment. If Scots do not think being Scottish is important enough to deserve separate recognition, why on earth should anyone else?

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