Magazine article The Spectator

The Winner by a Nose

Magazine article The Spectator

The Winner by a Nose

Article excerpt

Sprawling, cheesy, gimmicky, full of toecurlingly embarrassing interviews - but still the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, dammit, lifts the spirits in a way few other events in the sporting calendar manage. Sunday night. Pull up a chair. Grab a drink. It only needs that theme tune to strike up for me to break out in goosebumps.

What is it about the old SPOTY? Well, there's the dramatically lit auditorium full to bursting with the sporting great and good, all in their finery, this time up in Sheffield. It's also something to do with the link to a halcyon BBC past, when Peter Dimmock did his establishment thing in front of the mic and even some of the athletes - men like Christopher Chataway, first ever winner in 1954 - looked as if they were just having a bit of fun before entering the upper echelons of government.

These days you can virtually buy the League title, but you'll never be able to buy the public affection that is the only thing that'll get you the BBC award. The winners have all stood there - from Tom Simpson to Princess Anne, from David Steele to David Beckham - knowing that, whatever the purists think, they've won a place in people's hearts.

I like a year like this one when there hasn't been an Olympics or World Cup. People outside the big sports tend to get more of a lookin. Of course Jenson Button is odds-on to win, partly because it would right the perceived wrong of Lewis Hamilton missing out last year, partly because he's a likeable bloke, but mainly I suspect because Formula 1 was back on the BBC this year. I still wonder about a sport in which Button can come from nowhere and Hamilton can go so far backwards in the space of a few months when their abilities can't have changed that much, but let's not rain on anyone's starting grid.

There were slight issues around last year's award going to triple-Olympic-gold-medalwinning bike man Chris Hoy. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.