Thursday, 22 December 2011

Reasons the BBC Got It Wrong

Tonight the BBC's flagship sports programme "Sports Personality of the Year" will air on BBC1. It's a national and compulsive view - much like Children in Need or the Last Night of the Proms. Even people who don't like sport watch this programme. It is simply a showcase of sport and is highly motivational. I won't be watching this year and I urge you to boycott the show and Tweet your disapproval. The system of selection is to canvas the sports "experts" from 27 major UK newspapers : The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Mirror, The Sun, The Western News, The Belfast Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Independent etc etc. These guys (and I bet they are overwhelmingly guys) create a shortlist and the BBC takes it from there. That's where the flaw is in the system - how many non-football, non-rugby, non-F1, non-cricket or non-horse racing column inches are in your paper today ?  Of these how many concern female achievement ? There are no females in the 10 finalists selected. The BBC got this so wrong. It's a disgrace - they should have had the courage to pull the list and start again.

Elsewhere on this blog I've considered Chrissie Wellington to be the BBC's Sports Personality of the Decade in Waiting (see podcast here). Chrissie's got personality to burn and she's a 4 time World Champion. Yes, it's true that triathlon cannot rate with football in the national sporting consciousness - all but surely at the very least Alistair Brownlee could have made the list - he dominates in Olympic distance triathlon and will almost certainly take gold next year - he's the reining World Champion for a reason.
Here's the BBC listing ...
  • Mark Cavendish
  • Darren Clarke
  • Alastair Cook
  • Luke Donald
  • Mo Farah
  • Dai Greene
  • Amir Khan
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Andy Murray
  • Andrew Strauss
You can watch presenter Luke Humphry wriggling to try and justify the selection below. Yes Luke you're so right "it's disappointing" ...

Lets forget the sexism and focus on pure performance - just how many world champions do you see on this list ?  Here.  There are 3 golfers & while I'm certainly triathlon biased there is a real and genuine debate as to if golf should even be considered a sport - a skill yes - but an athletic pursuit ? Check this entry from the Huffington Post : here. Golf a sport - like darts maybe ?

Looking for a UK female World Champion for Sports Personality of the Year ? Here's 8 amazing World Champions just from triathlon and duathlon ...
  1. Helen Jenkins, ITU World Champion, Beijing, September 2011
  2. Chrissie Wellington, Ironman World Champion, Kona, October 2011
  3. Katie Hewison, ITU Duathlon World Champion, Edinburgh, September 2011
  4. Rachel Joyce, ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Champion, November 2011
  5. Lesley Paterson, XTERRA World Championship, Maui, 2011
  6. Faye McClelland, ITU World Champion Paratriathlon Female TRI-4, Beijing 2011
  7. Jane Egan, ITU World Champion Paratriathlon Female TRI-1, Beijing 2011
  8. Charlotte Ellis, ITU World Champion Paratriathlon Female TRI-6, Beijing 2011
OK, yes, I'm triathlon obsessed but what about England's most successful ever cricket captain ?

Check out Charlotte Edwards achevements here.  Then there's a huge groundswell of support for Sarah Stevenson - World Champion in Tae Kwon Do and the Guardian's Sports Personality of the year read about Sarah here.

Kerry Ane Payne is World Champion in the Open Water 10k and was crowned Open Water Swimmer of the Year.

Hayley Turner is the inaugural William Hill Sportswoman of the Year. She won 83 races in 2011 - including 2 prestigious Group 1 wins. Find out more here.

What about 3 times World Champion Beth Tweddle then ? GB's women's team made their best ever result at the 2011 World Gymnastics Championships (here). Not good enough for BBC Sports Personality of the Year though - what's a girl gotta do ?

Contrast the Engand Woman's rugby team with the derided male performances of 2011. Maggie "The Machine" Alphonsi scored her 25th try for England in the outstanding 10-0 defeat of World Champions New Zealand in November 2011. Find out more about Maggie here and here. Engand's women went on to claim the series with 2 wins and a draw and hopes for the 2014 World Cup are bouyant. Kate Youde in the Independent sums up the problem and exactly why the BBC should have done better.  "The profile of women's sport is a "chicken and egg" problem ..Women's rugby does not get the coverage, so people don't know about it, he says, and it is difficult to put it on a bigger stage at the moment to give it that profile." Sports Personality of the Year is that stage.

BBC - this is not political correctness. With these Awards you have a duty and responsibility to showcase exceptional people and inspire us all towards activity and wellbeing. The newspapers are notoriously myopic in their coverage - you should have had the moral courage to rip up the list and reflect on the world class performances of 50% of our population. Woman's sport needs showcased, promoted and equalized with the men. 2011 was not an exceptional year for Andy Murray - it was an exceptional year for Chrissie Wellington as retained her unbeaten World Title for the 4th time and where Sarah Stevenson became the most successful Taekwondo athlete in history. More than that - Sarah's story is moving, dramatic and inspiring. Sarah is the perfect Sports Personality of 2011. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi John
    Completely agree and we are also boycotting the show as a result. Maggie Alphonsi deserves much credit and womens rugby deserves much more coverage. On a pedantic note England did indeed beat NZ last month but unfortunately didn't win the World Cup which was earlier this summer, losing narrowly to NZ in the final. As with the other sports you mention, it is a chicken and egg problem of lack of media coverage suppressing public interest and vice versa.