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John Laverty

At last some good news: there's no BBC Spoty this year

John Laverty



It's such a smugfest: Spoty presenters Gabby Logan, Gary Lineker and Clare Balding

It's such a smugfest: Spoty presenters Gabby Logan, Gary Lineker and Clare Balding

BBC / Paul Cooper

It's such a smugfest: Spoty presenters Gabby Logan, Gary Lineker and Clare Balding

And the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2020 is… Jordan Henderson. Young Sports Personality: Trent Alexander-Arnold.


Team of the Year: Liverpool FC.

Coach Award: Jurgen Klopp.

Unsung Hero Award: Bobby Firmino.

Lifetime Achievement: Covid-19 survivor Sir Kenny Dalglish...

Not surprisingly, the Beeb is considering shelving this year's 'Spoty'.

It should have been a bumper year to reflect on, what with the Olympics, men's Euro 2020 tournament and the end of Liverpool's 30-year wait for a league title to draw upon.

Instead, the corporation will make a decision on Spoty 2020's fate later this year, and will almost certainly cancel it for the first time in its 66-year history.

But why stop there, lads?

While BBC Sport's 'Head of Television' Philip Bernie and his cronies are "taking stock" of the situation, they really should consider killing off this bloated annual smugfest for good.

Like the legendary figures it celebrates, this behemoth has run its course.

I'm old enough to remember when it was both eagerly awaited and unmissable, but that was in the days before video recorders, catch-up TV, 24-hour sports channels and YouTube.

Now, it's memorable mostly for its controversies; the notorious 2011 all-male shortlist, for instance, or the inclusion of outspoken heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury when the no-expense-spared bash was held in Belfast five years ago.

And what about speedway superstar Ivan Mauger allegedly topping the poll for five successive years in the early 1970s, yet not deemed eligible because his wasn't a 'BBC' sport; ditto angler Bob Nudd, whose supporters campaigned to get him over 100,000 votes in 1991?

If 'sports that are only shown on the Beeb' was the criteria now, the options would be severely limited and Ashes hero Ben Stokes wouldn't have won it last time out.

The choice of winner has of course raised an eyebrow or two down the years too.

Bestie couldn't believe it in 1971 when Princess Anne, who had won the individual title at the European Eventing Championship, pipped him for the top prize in the public vote.

Damon Hill drove off with the main award in 1994 for NOT winning that year's F1 Championship, while Michael Owen topped the poll four years later for scoring in a World Cup quarter-final that England lost to Argentina.

And I'm still baffled at how Ryan Giggs got Sports 'Personality' - an oxymoron if ever there was one - in 2009.

Clearly it was just for being Ryan Giggs, all-round good egg and ideal 'role model' for young footballers.

This was two years before it emerged that 'devoted family man' Giggsy had been showing far too much devotion to both a little brother's wife and a Big Brother 'babe'.

More recently, it irked when the hypocritical Daily Mail poured scorn on our own Jonathan Rea - who, according to the paper, "spends most of his time riding motorbikes around Northern Ireland" - getting to within 3,000 votes of winner Mo Farah, while simultaneously championing the integrity of the public's vote on Brexit.

And don't get me started on Lewis Hamilton, who constantly drapes himself in the flag of a country he doesn't pay any tax towards, or the fact that there hasn't been a female winner since… well, Princess Anne's daughter Zara in 2006.

All this is food and drink, however, for us media folks, and where would the fun be if we agreed on everything?

No, my beef with Spoty is not the lame jokes and lamentable, supposedly 'fun' items, nor the obligatory, patronising plink-plink piano music to remind us that the Helen Rollason award is coming up, but rather the overlong show's skewed, deluded sense of its own importance.

What began in the 1950s as a televised evening of sporting celebration is now uncomfortably laced with the corporation's apparent self congratulation at delivering such a broadcasting phenomenon in the first place.

It's as if this tired, anachronistic (albeit brilliantly produced and slickly presented) live show regards itself as every bit as 'big' as the memorable sporting events it reviews.

Last year, as two-time Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes was preparing to take part in one of the programme's typically cringeworthy stunts - being part of a team pedalling the trophy into the arena - she was asked: "When you think about this, where does this rank in terms of your own sporting achievements?"

The tail-end of a year which will have seen tens of thousands dying from a merciless disease, countless others losing jobs, businesses and livelihoods and/or suffering chronic depression and other mental and physical illnesses, is not an appropriate time to shell out a shed-load of licence payers' money on a buckshee jolly for hundreds of grinning millionaires.

There really isn't anything to celebrate.

Belfast Telegraph