SPOTY: No women, no footballers, no dogs
By Rob Casey
Tuesday 20 Dec 2011 22:07:00
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The shortlist for the 2011 Sports Personality of the Year award has attracted a lot of attention for including no women at all, when surely the greater story should be that of the all-male 10, the one with arguably the most ‘personality’ is a golfer.

OK, there aren’t any gals on the list, as nominated by sports editors from the country’s leading newspapers and magazines (including Nuts and Zoo, of course), but it is still a highly multi-cultural list, with black, white and Asian sports stars representing England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Island and even the Isle of Man. No Cornish, though.


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There are also no footballers, as the year ends in an odd number and none of them have actually won anything either. Nevertheless, for the nation’s favourite sport, this is still rather unusual, particularly when you consider that England went unbeaten throughout the whole year, while qualifying for a major tournament and beating the World and European champions Spain along the way. A pretty impressive set of achievements really, even though no-one believes we’re any good.

So who of these non-footballing men with no horses or other animals to help them over the line deserves to be crowned Sports Personality of the Year 2011? Given that the award has as much to do with actual personality as Gareth Southgate has to ‘elite’ development coaching, we should probably look at actual sporting achievement.

So that rules out Andy Murray then. Year after year, the Scot who becomes British when he looks like he’s about to win a major, before going back to being Scottish again, finds himself included in the shortlist, purely because he’s ‘one of’ the best in the world, but never good enough to actually be the best or win anything that might suggest that he’s entitled to claim he is, even until the next major tournament comes along. So jog on, Andy.

Equally unlikely to bring home a trophy is Amir Khan. Despite unifying the WBA and IBF World welterweight belts in July, his cause has not been helped by losing both of them this month. Not great timing, that, (which is possibly part of the reason he lost them in the first place).

It’s interesting to see two cricketers on the list, though. I say ‘interesting’, when what I really mean is ‘barrel-scraping’. True, this has been a phenomenal year for English (by which I of course mean British) cricket, but despite leading his side to Ashes glory and number one in the world rankings, Andy Strauss still finds himself overshadowed in terms of performance by Alastair Cook, whose runs earned him Man-of-the-Series accolades down under. So is Cook a contender? He was made one-day captain, after all…before we were whitewashed 5-0 by India. Moving swiftly on...

2011 has been a great year for British golf, with Rory McIlroy winning the US Open having completely screwed up in the Masters, Darren Clarke winning his first major, the British Open, aged 42, and Luke Donald snatching the world number one spot from Lee Westwood. It’s therefore hard to judge which achievement is the greater. Perhaps if Donald had won a major (at any point in his career), then his would stand out, but as such Clarke and McIlroy are the more likely contenders, despite not leading the way in their field, or rather, course.

We therefore have to turn to the world of athletics for some genuine World Champions. Welshman 400m hurdler Dai Greene added the World to his collection of European and Commonwealth gold medals in Daegu this summer. But let’s be honest, would you recognise him if he walked past you in the street? Would you recognise him if he hurdled over to you in the street? Would you even recognise him if he came hurdling up to you shouting “I’m Dai Greene! The hurdler!” in the street? Probably not. Which brings us to Mo Farah…

Having been pipped (the official term) at the line for the 10,000 metres, Farah took gold for the 5,000, making him a genuine contender for the SPOTY award. Though if he can do the double next year, then he’s a shoe-in surely?

And all this is why Mark Cavendish is the not so much run-away as cycle-away at break-neck speed bookies favourite. Winning the Green Jersey in the Tour-de-France, then the World Road Race, Cavendish completed a perfect sprint double, to potentially make him the first cyclist to win Sports Personality since…erm…Chris Hoy three years ago.

With AP McCoy’s victory last year and Zara Phillips in 2006, as well, it seems that bikes and horses are what make the British great when it comes to sport. It’s probably time we left the ball games to everyone else then.

Is it too late to change the London 2012 triathlon to a bike, horse and boat event?


For more articles by Rob Casey, visit his blog

You can also follow England Fansonline on Twitter @1HellOfABeating 




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