OPINION

Georgia Hall snub exposes sad hypocrisy of #SPOTY

Georgia Hall

The only consolation is that, like the vast majority of awards, it is inherently meaningless.

Even so, Georgia Hall has a legitimate right to feel aggrieved at this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony.

Being overlooked for the six-person shortlist for the main award was bad enough. At 22, Hall became Britain’s youngest-ever female major winner this year and won the LET Order of Merit for the second year on the spin. That, though, is apparently less of an achievement than captaining England to fourth place at a World Cup where they beat teams ranked 23rd, 24th and 55th, and lost another three times.

However, what was worse – much worse – was the coverage devoted to Hall’s stellar 2018. Ten seconds. That’s all she was given. Ten seconds across two of the most sycophantic and conceited hours of television you will ever watch. She wasn’t even given the opportunity to speak. 

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“Three Lions”? Oh, that was played in full, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner taking to the stage to tunelessly slaughter their own song as a whole nation were reminded that, despite a favourable draw which improved exponentially as the tournament wore on, England failed to win the World Cup.

Celebrating failure at the expense of success. How wonderfully British.

Understandably, the golf community – already scarred by years of sustained neglect at the hands of this peculiarly-named ham-fest – reacted angrily to the indifference shown to Hall.

Even the BBC’s golf correspondent Iain Carter, to his credit, tweeted his own incredulity.

There’s a pattern here, of course. Neither of the previous two British golfers to win the Women’s British Open – Catriona Matthew and Karen Stupples – made the shortlists in 2009 or 2004 respectively. It’s worth noting that Paul Lawrie also missed out in 1999, months after winning the Open. So it does work both ways.

Even so, there is something about Hall’s omission that seems at odds with one of BBC Sport’s core messages.

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Get Inspired.

That’s what they routinely tell us. There’s even a micro-site devoted to the message. At face value, it’s a brilliant, laudable mission to promote a more active, healthy nation. It encourages inclusivity, accessibility, affordability and opportunity, with the goal of reducing the amount of time we spend on our sofas consuming (ironically enough) glitzy, extravagant television productions.

So, is it not entirely conflicting that, on its biggest night of the year, BBC Sport chooses (one has to presume it was a choice) not to celebrate the extraordinary success of a young British sportswoman? 

Tyson Fury

Instead, it wanted us to hear from Tyson Fury, a man with a history of deeply disturbing behaviour. The boxer has been accused of anti-Semitism, homophobia and sexism at various times in the past, and has tested positive for banned drugs.

Get inspired? By this? You must be having a laugh, Auntie.

Whilst Fury is due credit for turning his life around (if that is indeed what he has done), it's hard to fathom how he deserves a prime-time TV platform at the expense of a hard-working, 22-year-old who has beaten the best in the world to reach the top of her game.

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The whole event is dangerously conflated and risks reducing the wider image of ‘Get Inspired’ to that of virtue signalling by an organisation fulfilling a public obligation rather than a public service.

Georgia Hall deserved better. Golf deserved better. More crucially, the next generation of Georgias and golfers deserved better.

Will things change? Not likely. Not so long as there are men who drive faster cars than other men, and footballers who fall short of doing what it is they’re paid handsomely to do.

Still, given the choice of having either BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy and the RICOH Women’s British Open silverware adorn her mantelpiece this Christmas, I’m quite certain I know what Georgia would choose.

#SPOTY - Your thoughts?

Did you watch BBC Sports Personality of the Year? What did you make of the treatment of Georgia Hall? Leave your thoughts in our Comments section below.

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