It’s that time of year again – sleigh bells ring, festive cheer and what better way to celebrate the run-up to Christmas than by choosing your favourite sporting hero of the year!
BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award returns to our lives once again on the 16th of December, and what a competition it will be this year.
Sports Personality of the year, or SPOTY as it is so often referred to, is an interesting event. I can’t decide whether I love it or hate it. Every year it gets more and more glamorous, more and more like the Oscars, but it seems to mean nothing.
Other winners such as Zara Phillips, Joe Calzaghe and Greg Rusedski (sorry Greg, you are still my number one) are a huge surprise looking back. What they achieved may have been good for that particular year. But, on reflection, they don’t seem to have achieved nearly as much as those who they beat to/on the podium or any of those even nominated for this year’s award.
Damon Hill won the award twice in three years, something which now seems strange when you consider Lewis Hamilton has only managed to finish second on two occasions, and Jenson Button, who had an extraordinary F1 campaign in 2009, finished behind the aforementioned Giggs.
AP McCoy, who won in 2010, received more votes than any of his four predessors: Zara Phillips (2006), Joe Calzaghe (2007), Sir Chris Hoy (2008) or Ryan Giggs (2009), and received 42% of the vote, winning by a clear margin. I may be being biased against horse racing but this stat also surprises me.
The award in itself is fundamentally flawed. The best sportsman may not have the best personality, nor should he/she, and judging by a fair few of the previous winners it seems that those with personality are deemed to finish second!
The award should be named sportsperson of the year, as this is what indeed the award appears to be trying to achieve. Andy Murray, who is on the shortlist, and has been for the last few years, at least, shouldn’t even be there if it the award is judged on personality as his personality is definitely not what has endeared him to the British public. (See previous blog post).
He is for me, definitely a top three candidate this year. But this decision is so subjective and it depends on which sport people like and understand the most as to how they will vote.
Murray won the US Open and the Olympics. Maybe switch the US Open for Wimbledon, and he would probably be much higher on people’s list. Many in this country see Wimbledon as the be all and end all of tennis as the media coverage is so thorough. However, winning the US Open is just as much of an achievement as winning Wimbledon, or any other slam. It could even be argued it is more of an achievement as Murray had to do so without the home support.
But my ultimate problem with this award is the fact that I really doubt the athletes care as much as everyone else about whether they win this award or not. Do you think Bradley Wiggins was thinking on the start of the time trial: “Now… if I win this Olympic gold to add to my yellow jacket, I will surely receive that weird SPOTY trophy of a camera (wtf!?) at the end of the year, come on Wiggo, push it!” (Yes, I like to imagine that Bradley calls himself Wiggo in his head.)
Or Mo Farah was thinking on the final lap of the 5,000 metres: “I must push past this pain barrier or I won’t even be nominated for SPOTY.”
Do Lewis Hamilton’s or Jenson Button’s world titles mean less because they weren’t crowned SPOTY (as of yet). No, I don’t think they do.
Ultimately it means nothing compared to the actual sporting crowns they each hold. In entertainment similar awards mean more as it is a recognition from industry experts. But getting a secondary award after first achieving in your sport what must be the most important thing to you seems a little empty.
Despite all this, I will be watching the award ceremony, I will get annoyed if the wrong person wins and I will probably shed a tear when we look back at the year of sport and the events that give you shivers down your spine.
But maybe that is what this is all about, a celebration of how wonderful we are at certain events. And this year we have certainly been good. It is something us Brits aren’t normally very good at. So maybe we should just sit down, relax and enjoy the over-the-top nature of the ceremony, Gary Linekar’s smug smile and the countless montages, with that Welsh man’s voiceover making it oh that much more dramatic.