There’s nowt wrong with having no women in the Sports Personality of the Year list

I don’t think bras were actually burned but straps were certainly loosened as the politically-correct brigade went into overdrive this week.
Their target: The life-or-death matter that is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) Awards.
Forget the global economic crisis, the conflict in Afghanistan and the public sector strikes.
The thing that was exercising high-profile critics (most of them women) was the absence of any women on the SPOTY shortlist.
Four-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington branded it “disgraceful”.
Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington OBE was equally dismayed, adding that she hoped that next year the shortlist would be all women.
I just can’t see it myself, Rebecca. To be honest, I think I’ve got more chance of making the cut than there is of 10 women being shortlisted in 2012.
Actually, I get rather annoyed when confronted with these ridiculous debates which infer sexism where there is none.
Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?
The SPOTY shortlist is drawn up by a panel of 27 sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines.
This immediately exonerates the Beeb of any blame in terms of who is selected and is, I believe, a genuine attempt to pick the brains of people who ought to know their stuff.
‘Ah, but they’re all men,’ I hear the bra-looseners cry.
So what? This system hasn’t prevented previous winners being women or at least two women being shortlisted every year since 2006. (Four in 2008).
I wonder if it has it occurred to the critics that maybe, just maybe, the 10 blokes on the shortlist deserved the recognition this year – ahead of other male and female contenders?
Because Mark Cavendish (cycling), Darren Clark (golf), Alistair Cook (cricket), Luke Donald (golf), Mo Farah (athletics), Dai Greene (athletics), Amir Khan (boxing), Rory McIlroy (golf), Andy Murray (tennis) and Andrew Strauss (cricket) have all certainly had a damn good year.
So the question I would pose to the nay-sayers is: Which of these blokes would you boot out to accommodate a woman?
Isn’t the truth here that it’s all subjective?
The sports editors have come up with a list of people whom they believe have had a better 2011 than their sporting peers. End of story.
By all means moan about the lack of coverage of women’s sport (and the lack of spectators), but there is no conspiracy here. It’s certainly not a disgrace or a scandal.
Frankly, to suggest that women must be included in any such top 10 is tokenism of the worst kind, in my book.
We had a similar ‘debate’ when yours truly was a judge for Stoke-on-Trent’s Citizen of the Century Awards last year.
When tasked with finding the 10 most worthy individuals from Stoke-on-Trent in the last 100 years, my fellow judges and I immediately named ceramic industry genius and celebrity Clarice Cliff as one.
However, we genuinely struggled to find another woman whom it was felt deserved to make the shortlist alongside the likes of Spitfire designer Reginald Mitchell CBE, influential Potteries author Arnold Bennett and global football icon Sir Stanley Matthews CBE.
This was simply because – and this is an indisputable fact – for much of the century we were reviewing women simply didn’t have the life opportunities or high-profile roles that men did.
Thus, logically, the shortlist of 10 was always going to be dominated by men.
In the end, however, political correctness triumphed – despite what yours truly thought – and Millicent Duchess of Sutherland was included.
Who, you might ask? Well, she was an activist for social reform who was born in Fife in 1867 and founded the North Staffordshire Cripples Aid Society.
Now, I wouldn’t for one minute seek to diminish her endeavours but the truth is ‘our’ Millie was included specifically to pacify those who felt the list wasn’t fair on women and not representative enough of modern Stoke-on-Trent.
It’s nonsense but you’d be amazed how many people think like this and believe that it’s OK to rewrite history in order to appear inclusive and tick the right boxes.

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