Here are the nominations for the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY):
- Stuart Broad (Cricket)
- Hollie Doyle (No idea)
- Tyson Fury (Hitting people)
- Jordan Henderson (Footballer)
- Lewis Hamilton (Drives a car)
- Ronnie O’Sullivan (Snooker)
I suppose you could call it an eclectic list. You could call it a monumentally dull list. You could be saying Who? when you see the name Hollie Doyle and Why? when you see Monaco’s favourite son Lewis Hamilton and the big question on the night will be, isn’t there anything better to watch?
One thing we must be very clear about: you do not need to have a personality to become SPOTY. Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, Nick Faldo and of course Lewis Hamilton are all previous winners and they barely have an ounce of charisma between them. They are high achievers in their sports of choice but no one would honestly regard them as anything other than dullards.
The short list being drawn up in advance is a relatively recent innovation. An independent panel sits in a pub and over a few pints of Boston’s Old Thumper and it draws six names out of the hat. Or perhaps they sit in a smoke-free room and decide among themselves who we can vote for. I suspect this new method was chosen to avoid ‘unusual’ winners, such as anglers and shove ha’ppeny stars. So, how did they come up with this one?
Even though Stuart Broad has spent his entire career behind Sky’s paywall, he has a great record as a fast bowler. And he has a proper personality. It’s just that apart from cricket fans and Sky viewers, he is largely unknown. It’s possibly, in the eyes of the panel, his turn. Similarly, O’Sullivan has been around forever, has never won SPOTY and has a great personality. Fury hits people for a living and he too has a personality, even though it seems he doesn’t want anything to do with the show, which leaves us with Hamilton, Doyle and Jordan Henderson.
Hamilton, we know, drives fast cars. He drives fast cars very fast. He lives in Monaco because it suits his taxation arrangements. He has a strange mid-Atlantic accent. And he is mightily dull. I admire his campaigning for ‘Black Lives Matter’. And, like most people, I have zero interest in the procession that is F1. Now it’s only on Sky, I doubt that there are more than a few hundred thousand viewers slumbering in their armchairs after a heavy Sunday dinner, watching Hamilton leading into the first bend and hopefully waking up in time to see Hamilton take the chequered flag. But with Hollie Doyle, what do I say without being accused of sexism and misogyny?
Having Googled Ms Doyle, I find she is a jockey. At the risk of offending horse racing fans, it’s the most ridiculous sport of them all; one in which the main participants – the horses – have literally no idea they are competing. But anyway, perhaps I am underestimating Ms Doyle. Perhaps, she is the most charismatic sportswoman in the land with a stellar record of success. I genuinely don’t know and I genuinely don’t care. But the fact that she is in the top six nominations looks absolutely bizarre to me.
I am not doing to dare to say that she has been chosen to ensure there is a woman in the final list. That, I am sure, was never a consideration for the panel, but to ensure this never happens, why not have male and female champions? I can think of loads of sports people who, I would have thought, could have been on the list. In short, the list makes little sense to me.
Will I watch it? I am not too sure. Sport has been so fragmented and, frankly, so irrelevant, this year, I’m not sure that the BBC might have done well to not bother to have a SPOTY in 2020. I want Jordan Henderson to win because he’s won so much as captain of Liverpool, he is a great ambassador for his club, he did so much to raise huge sums from Premier League players to donate to good causes, he is a tireless charity worker and anti-racism campaigner and – yes – he has a personality. He won’t win, though. The prize will go to the soon to be Sir Lewis Hamilton, a victory which will some up perfectly this dreadful year. 2021 will be much, much better.