Scots have had such itchy feet over the centuries that at least a further 20 million people worldwide trace their origins to Scotland, including over 9 million living in the United States, over 4 million living in Canada, and large numbers in just about every other corner of the globe: including, apparently, 250,000 in Russia. Combine this remarkable diaspora with a flair for innovation and an ability to find ways of having a good time however oppressive the economic and social circumstances, and it is perhaps no great surprise to find that if you scratch the surface of the story of the development of just about any sport in just about any part of the world you find that Scots have played a central role.
What is rather more of a surprise is to find out just how central a role Scots have played, in just how many sports, in just how many parts of the world. That is where John KV Eunson's entertaining and nicely written book comes in. OK, so you might have guessed that golf was a sport developed and popularised by Scots. So it is perhaps fitting that the first ever golf "major" took place at Prestwick in 1860: and that it was won by a man from East Lothian. Rather less expected is to discover in this book that the world's first rugby international took place in 1871, in Edinburgh: or that the world's first international football match took place the following year, in Glasgow.
But at the end of the day, sport is ultimately about the men and women who play it, and the main focus of "Sporting Scots: How Scotland Brought Sport to the World" is on those many individuals who have made or continue to make such telling contributions. The book is arranged in a series of themes, starting with "The Americans" and moving on through "The Golfers", "The Footballers" and so on. The concluding chapters comprise a "Post Match Analysis" which draws the strands together and considers the links between sport, politics and business; and "50 Great Sporting Scots", which does exactly what it says in the title, while providing, as the author acknowledges, scope for considerable debate!