by Bob Lethaby
First things first…I love most sports, apart from Grand Prix racing (which isn’t really sport is it?) snooker (which isn’t really a sport is it?) and the ‘Long Jump’ which, you have to admit, is difficult to find compelling. The long jump sits comfortably next to dressage in my sporting interest table.
However, I hate the BBC Sports Personality of the Year or SPOTY as some cretins are now calling it. It is in my opinion, a self-indulgent, back slapping load of old nonsense hosted by an institution that hardly broadcasts any live sport of note apart from Wimbledon and a painfully desperate attempt at recreating the romance of the FA Cup with perpetual replays of Ronnie Radford’s classic 70’s moment against Newcastle United.
The BBC have invested more money in sex offenders than sport.
As a consequence, I find it quite amusing that they have got themselves in terrible a pickle over unhinged World Boxing champion Tyson Fury, a figure of much controversy due to his aniquated attitude towards women and homosexuals along with a somewhat bizarre allegiance to the good Lord Jesus Christ. Quite what the Archbishop of Canterbury would make of Fury, who knows?
The on-going issue with the title of this over-hyped award is that it has the word ‘personality’ in it, whereas Sportsman of the Year Award would have more of a black and white feel to it, making the whole process more simplistic. Then there would be no doubting Fury’s claim, one that could only be seriously challenged by world tennis number two and Davis Cup winner, Andy Murray, or perhaps some bloke who goes round a race track 80 times in the best car.
Most of the other competition is hardly stiff is it? I don’t mean to upset members of the gymnastic community, but I have never heard of Max Whitlock, have you? However, I guess if he can compete with a Chinese guy who has been forced to do the vault in his mother’s womb and has lived a life of being beaten for every foot fault and fed one bran flake a day, I guess he (Whitlock) deserves some recognition.
Perhaps he is not that good at gymnastics but has great sporting personality, possessing all the potential to be a future star of ‘A Question of Sport’ where Matt Dawson and Phil Tuffnell receive grandiose belly laughs for being about as funny as having your testicles on the receiving end of a hefty blow from a size 12 hobnail boot.
Fury certainly has a personality, albeit a stark raving mad one, resulting in unprecedented controversy regarding his selection that is driving the politically correct into a seething frenzy of morality. Of course, this frenzy this is now feeding the strong possibility of a huge phone vote where members of the travelling community and beyond will ensure his (Fury’s) victory on the Beebs big night .
There will not be much the BBC can do about that unless they can somehow rig the vote in favour of someone more palatable such as the instantly likeable Jess Ennis, who according to the loveable Fury, “slaps up well in a skirt.”
The BBC have actually done this before, stripping angler, Bob Nudd, of the award after discovering a mischievous and frankly hilarious attempt at rigging by the readers of the Angling Times who polled 100,000 votes for the great man of the riverside before they were unfortunately rumbled. However, Fury is no Bob Nudd and this is no joke for the Beeb; Gary Lineker and Sue Barker must be losing a lot of sleep.
The BBC could have avoided the mess they have got themselves in to by simply saying that the nomination date had passed and that was that, but naively, they hadn’t considered the Andy Murray factor and the fact he effectively won the Davis Cup single-handedly for Britain the day after Fury beat Vladimir Klitschko.
They couldn’t justify adding Murray to an extended list and leave Fury off it.
However, had they done their homework properly, they would have put Murray on the list in first place. Great Britain were playing Belgium in the Davis Cup final which was, in effect a bye and a reward for the much tougher ties they faced in earlier rounds. Belgium had the world number 16 and a couple of no-hoper’s in their squad and required nothing short of a sporting miracle against Murray and his brother Jamie, a more than useful doubles player.
At number 2 in the world and in a final that as a contest, was the equivalent of me playing Stephen Hawking, Murray should have already been on a list that also featured the names Adam Peaty and Kevin Seinfield. I really don’t want to do down their respective achievements but whether you like him or not, who are they on the world sporting stage in comparison to Andy Murray?
Tyson Fury and his entourage have no clue how to work the media and have no concept of political correctness either, so they will go on upsetting people by saying what comes into their head. The BBC would much prefer a heavyweight punch bag like Frank Bruno, perpetually saying “No what I mean Gary” to great audience hilarity but they aren’t going to get that from Tyson Fury and there is no way they can backtrack now as it will be instantly deemed as racist prejudice against an ethnic minority group.
Their only hope of avoiding a testing evening is if Fury says something really awful between now and the event which given his track record, is a distinct possibility.
By the way, before I sign off… what about Joe Root?
The England cricketer has scored 2133 Test runs, the highest ever in a calendar year by an Englishman and he has finished 2015 as the number one Test Batsman in the world. You could also add to that list James Anderson, who passed Ian Botham as England’s highest ever wicket taker and Alistair Cook, who passed Graham Gooch to become the leading England run scorer of all time.
A sports personality according to the rule of the BBC, is someone who can jump quite far rather than someone who has achieved great things in a profession that used to be second only to football in the hearts of a sporting nation, especially when the BBC decided it was worth keeping on terrestrial TV.
As unsavoury as he is honest with his volatile words, if Fury does win it with a phone vote, the BBC will be getting what they deserve. His acceptance speech will be comedy gold, sending flabbergasted members of the audience hurtling towards the exit gates like chickens spooked by a farmyard fox.
There is a silver lining for the BBC in that viewer anticipation of imminent disaster is great for ratings.
Excruciating acceptance speeches are box office.
*By the way, I beat Hawking 7-5 4-6 1-6 6-3 6-0…he tired in the fourth and it was something of a procession after that.
Read more of Bob’s brilliant writing here