Tuesday, November 29, 2011


#bbcspoty is Twitter-speak for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The shortlist of nominations was announced yesterday, and has caused a certain amount of upset (an understatement). Many, including myself, are incensed that there are no female representatives amongst the nominations. This year the BBC might as well rename the title BBC Sportsman of the Year.

Just because there are no women on the shortlist doesn't mean, of course, that there weren't women eligible to be there, or deserving of being there. Many female sports stars, including multiple world champions, have been omitted or ignored. Names such as Rebecca Adlington, Jess Ennis, Keri-Anne Payne, Chrissie Wellington, Helen Jenkins or Beth Tweddle would have graced the shortlist and wouldn't have been consider undeserving. But no, not a single woman is on the list.

There are a number of factors which might be taken into consideration when we ask why this has happened. Here are a couple.

First of all, the way that nominations are made militates against women appearing on the shortlist. Sports Editors from a number of newspapers and magazines are asked to submit ten nominations each, and these are aggregated to come up with the ten most 'popular' sports stars. However, the publications polled include the men's magazines Nuts and Zoo, for instance. So the nomination process is skewed towards men being nominated.

And secondly, sports coverage on television, on the radio and in our newspapers is dominated by men's sports. Partly that's the fault of the media organisations who choose to do that, and partly that's our fault because they are only responding to what the British public want to see.

But I suggest that the BBC could have used BBC Sports Personality of the Year to educate and to challenge, and to open our eyes to the wonderful women sports stars that we ought to be proud of and voting for.

So BBC I suggest that you look at the way that the shortlist is drawn up. The way that it is drawn up at the moment is not a public service but a public disservice!

1 comment:

Chris Hall said...

Was discussing this with someone at work who says an idea is to have previous winners vote as well as journalists. That could address the balance a little.