If it was a married couple, it would have been separated long ago – but the Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony, broadcast live from Leeds last night, was surely the sort of occasion for which the expression ‘irreconcilable differences’ was invented.
First, some background. In the 60-year history of the BBC awards, only two golfers have ever won it. Dai Rees, in 1957, and Sir Nick Faldo, in 1989. Tony Jacklin and Darren Clarke have each been runner-up twice, whilst Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam have both had the ‘honour’ of coming third.
Two wins for golfers. As compared with three for figure-skaters, four for cricketers, five for boxers, and six for Formula One drivers. It’s a paltry return.
Last night, Justin Rose had a chance to follow in the footsteps of Rees and Faldo, having made the ten-person short-list for the prize. This off the back of a season in which he became the first Englishman to win a major in 17 years and the first to win the US Open since 1970.
That Rose didn’t win was no great surprise. Andy Murray’s Wimbledon heroics made the contest something of a formality. But for him to garner less than 10,000 votes and finish outside the top three was a genuine shock.
Still, can’t blame the BBC for that. The public vote for the award. Their fault.
The whole night was symptomatic of the way the BBC seems to feel about golf.
Where the finger can be pointed at the Beeb is in the presentation of the ‘Young Sports Personality of the Year’ and ‘Team of the Year’ awards.
First, the latter. Yes, the British & Irish Lions rugby union side’s win over Australia this summer was impressive. But it paled in comparison to Europe’s Solheim Cup thumping of the USA, a first-ever win for the Euros on American soil. Still, the rugby lads got the nod.
If that was remarkable, the ‘Young Sports Personality of the Year’ award was truly flabbergasting. Charley Hull began the year as a mere amateur. She’ll end it having finished sixth on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit and as the single biggest star of this year’s Solheim Cup, where she became the youngest player ever to play in the match. She took on American golf’s poster girl, Paula Creamer, in the singles and gave her an absolute kicking in front of a partisan American crowd.
And yet the BBC’s panel decided to snub her for the award in favour of shooter, Amber Hill.
No offence to Hill, who no doubt had a great year, but what Charley Hull did was downright spectacular.
The whole night was symptomatic of the way the BBC seems to feel about golf. It used to do the sport so well. Now, the only thing it does it is a disservice.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, the awards are of little significance. But that’s not the point. If the BBC wants to present the evening as a celebration of the year in sport, it needs to far better and more even job of things.
Do you agree with Michael McEwan’s thoughts on the relationship between the BBC and golf? Leave your thoughts in our ‘Comments’ section below.