BBC Sports Personality nominees

November 30, 2009

No suprises at SPOTY towers where Phil Taylor has once again been overlooked for BBC Sports Personality of the Year by the twenty-six national and regional publications given the pleasurable task of choosing their top ten.

I know I shouldn’t give a monkeys about this nonsensical award which has little to do with either sport or personality, and which disappoints me every December as much as Guinness from a can, but I care. SPOTY matters to me. So much so that I just counted all the nominations for each person.

Which is how I know that only Jenson Button had a clean sweep of twenty-six yes’s – both Strauss (Scotland on Sunday), and Haye (Sunday Times) missed out by the odd one. Jessica Ennis had a peculiar five black marks to her name, and fifth in the rankings, with seventeen ticks, was gymnast Beth Tweddle, the only other female to make the final shortlist. Tom Daley snuck into tenth place, ahead of previous winner Andrew Flintoff, with ten nominations. Phil Taylor only received three (News of the World, Daily Star, and Star on Sunday, in case you were wondering).

Now I appreciate that this year’s list may be reasonably strong, but, if darts is a sport (which it is), and Taylor is currently the best in his sport (which he is), as well as being the best there’s ever been in his sport (yes, he’s that too), and if he’s just had his best year ever (which, in case you didn’t know, he has), then what the hell are Ryan Giggs, Phillips Odowu, and Mark Cavendish doing getting 11, 13 and 16 votes respectively.

It’s a shame for Taylor, as he will never have a year quite like this again, and because he’s probably the only person in the country who will care more about his recognition on SPOTY than I will. His nomination in 2006 remains his sole moment of glory.

There is hope, however. The BBC website tells us that a ‘true world superstar’ will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. For the next thirteen days, my dreams, like Phil’s are gonna be fun.

SPOTY update, 4 December 2009: following comments on this site, on twitter and a handful of emails to me, I’ve been in touch with the Editor of SPOTY to clarify how Tom Daley was chosen ahead of Andrew Flintoff when both had ten nominations, and to find out exactly how Cristiano Ronaldo could receive a nomination.

As one would expect following the Strictly fiasco last year, the rules are very clear, were published well in advance, and are still available here. I’m told that the ‘balanced and distinguished group of former SPOTY winners’ clearly voted for Daley, and that the Ronaldo nomination was not a mistake, it was perfectly within these rules:
People are eligible to win Sports Personality of the Year if:- They are British or all of the following criteria apply:
– They play a significant amount of their sport in the UK
– Their core achievements that year were achieved in the UK, and not with a non-UK based team (in which case they would more likely qualify for the Overseas award)
– They are residents in the UK.

In what now seems like a wasted opportunity, if only a few of its illustrious competitors had followed the example of the Star on Sunday, this may have become my favorite SPOTY ever.

(My thanks to Carl Doran and colleagues for answering my questions).