The Scottish Games Association (SGA) is the governing body of Traditional Highland Games in Scotland. It represents over 60 Highland Games in Scotland and has several associate members overseas in Canada and Australia etc.
It assists individual Highland Games, sets rules for competition and records any new records created. The traditional events held at most Games are Heavyweight events, Highland Dancing, Solo Piping, Pipe Bands, Tug of War, Wrestling and Light Field events.
In addition most Highland Games have keenly contested Athletic and Cycling events, many which operate a handicap system. There are usually events held for Adults and Juniors. Highland Games are held in Scotland from the end of May to the middle of September every year, attracting crowds from several hundred to over ten thousand at some of the larger Games.
For sixty remarkable years, the Scottish Games Association (SGA), through its members, has endeavoured to protect, encourage and enhance Scotland’s rich heritage of athletics, heavy events, dance, music and hospitality.
As other sports are hijacked by high finance, highland games continue to be run on a more traditional basis. The SGA are governing body and representative of over 60 highland games nationally, with several associate members from overseas.
The member games range from large, internationally famous events with huge support, to small village events with a strong local following – but all display the same ethos of fair and friendly competition: this is the essence of the work of the SGA.
The SGA promotes highland games as a valuable and very relevant feature of Scotland today. Working with other sports governing bodies, the press and parliament, the SGA aims to raise awareness and ensure that people realise the benefits brought by highland games, as well as the fragility of traditional pursuits in an increasingly-regulated consumer culture. The SGA also acts to ensure that highland games athletic events remain untainted by the use of performance-enhancing drugs; a rigorous testing regime has been in place for several years and receives the full support of organizers and athletes alike.
The SGA works internally and with partner organizations to bring new and young athletes into the games circuit and to progress them through their athletic career. Many famous athletes cut their teeth at highland games events, and the enthusiastic support of highland games crowds continues to spur many on to record-breaking performances. Affiliations are also maintained with the piping and dancing associations – highland games are an essential forum to demonstrate these skills through arduous competitions, demanding the highest levels of technical and artistic skill.
In addition to the many attractions for visitors on the day on the games field, the trade stands, vendors, and demonstrations on offer at events provide a range of local and wider produce and services, adding to the enjoyment for all – there is truly ‘something for everyone’ at a highland games event. The SGA governing council is fully accountable and representative: individuals from member events are elected at a regional level, working together on a voluntary basis to preserve and promote this country’s fine heritage of highland games.
The origins of highland games are traced back over 1,000 years to competitions for kings and clan chiefs, and these traditions faithfully continue at events today. Sixty years ago, a few visionary people decided that this very special tradition unique to Scotland should be nurtured and protected. The Scottish Games Association was born and over the years has grown in stature. Thanks to the dedicated support of many far-seeing enthusiasts, sadly many of them no longer with us, the Association has reached this milestone in good heart. Standards in all events continue to improved each year; these outstanding achievements are documented in the unique SGA Year Book which is recognized as the definitive highland games record, and is sought around the world.
Highland games have always been important as community events, but are also now of pivotal value to the tourist industry. The SGA’s members attract some 500,000 spectators annually, many from overseas. Despite being so well known and fondly associated with Scotland, highland games do not receive government funding: the SGA and its members have to raise funds themselves and are run on a not-for-profit basis.
Let us celebrate 60 years of successful stewardship – visit your highland games this summer