A few brief observations on Marina Hyde’s dislike of the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award

December 8, 2011

1. Writing in the Guardian, Marina Hyde says women shouldn’t care too much that there are no female athletes on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year because it’s always been a naff, unmeritocratic irrelevancy. Well, you could argue that all big, glitzy televised awards ceremonies have an aura of naffness and feature some nominees who don’t deserve to be shortlisted, but I don’t think anyone would argue on that basis that it would be OK to have no female nominees at, say, the Oscars or the BRIT Awards. I’m not sure why SPOTY should be any different.

2. Nigel Mansell won it twice and – ha ha! – he doesn’t even have a personality – right, ladies!? So a reasonable conclusion might be that the award’s name is simply a misnomer: it’s a recognition of achievement rather than a celebration of personality. Which brings us to…

3. Mark Cavendish. Marina is not a fan of the manner British Cycling has chosen to drum up support for one of this country’s few world champions, which she calls “Oscars-style campaigning”. So is BC running a slick campaign worthy of Hollywood’s arch machinators? Because it seems to me that it’s nothing more than a modest social media wheeze to get fans voting. I wrote a while ago about how British newspapers covered Cav’s move to Sky: the popular press gave it barely a mention, while the broadsheets provided prominent coverage, which may have been because of the half-page adverts for Sky which accompanied their reports. So overall, the approach of sports editors was to more or less ignore the event because they thought no one would be interested (the red-tops) or print, perhaps, what advertisers wanted to see (the broadsheets). In this context, SPOTY is an opportunity for cycling fans to provide a truer representation of Cav’s popularity, just by picking up the phone or pressing their red button on the night. So not unmeritocratic, or naff: just a small, good way of redressing the balance.

4. Marina Hyde admits that she churned out a piece three years ago praising SPOTY, so she could well be talking bollocks for the sake of it this time as well.

5. The hashtag for that there Twitter, should you choose to use it, is #CAV4SPOTY.

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