BBC Sports Personality of the Year nominations cause discontent.

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By website-sport on 1.12.2023

BBC Sports Personality of the Year nominations cause discontent.

The 58th Sports Personality of the Year award recently announced the shortlist of contenders in line to scoop the prestigious prize. Ten of the UK’s highest achieving sports stars have been nominated with the winner being announced after a public vote on the 22nd of December. However, this year’s list of sportsmen has drawn criticism for being exactly that: a list of sportsmen.

Of the selected 10 there is a great deal of diversity in the 6 different disciplines they represent, yet, without a single woman on the list, some people have begun to ask questions as to how, despite some excellent achievements by female athletes, none have made the final cut.

The shortlist is selected by a panel of 27 editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines. Since the voting system was changed in 2006 there has been at least two women on the shortlist each year, with the last female winner being Zara Phillips after claiming individual gold and team silver at the World Equestrian Games that same year.

Despite this there are some glaring omissions: Rebbecca Addlington won gold in the world swimming championships, Keri-Anne Payne won gold in the 10k open water event at the World Championships and was also the first person to claim a spot in the GB Olympic team as well as Chrissie Wellington, who won her fourth Ironman world championship title in October to name a few.

Of course it would be wrong to accuse the BBC or those who voted of sexism, but it does show that clearly there are has been no shortage of achievements to have considered. This poses the question: Why?

It seems to be that the problem could be with the media; perhaps female athletes are not as celebrated as they deserve to be. There is no question that sport in this country is male dominated as far as media coverage is concerned. Earlier this year Inquirelive published an article on the success of the Women’s national football team, yet it seems unlikely that the nation will cram into pubs to watch a side which will actually challenge their opponents. But, for some reason, we will tolerate our men’s squad en masse.

Equally, if a female athlete achieves at the highest level, the headline on the back page is far more likely to make way if it coincides with an under achieving manager losing his job or some overpaid footballer getting a parking ticket.

This is not to suggest that female athletes should be awarded a place on the list through tokenism and even less to suggest that the ten nominees do not fully deserve their place. But it is worth wondering why the pedestal for sportswomen is not as high as that which is reserved for sports men.

As well as the individual award there will also be awards for Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, Young Sports Personality of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Helen Rollason Award, Sports Unsung Hero. Whilst I won’t contradict myself by saying I want to see awards going to females, (I want awards to go to those who deserve it) I hope that these nominations wake the media up and Women’s sport is celebrated as it deserves, and, with the London 2012 Olympics fast approaching, it is likely we will all soon be appreciating the wealth of talent the UK has to offer.

List of nominees:

Mark Cavendish (cycling), Darren Clarke (golf), Alastair Cook (cricket), Luke Donald (golf), Mo Farah (athletics), Dai Greene (athletics), Amir Khan (boxing), Rory McIlroy (golf), Andy Murray (tennis), Andrew Strauss (cricket).


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