It seems that the furore over an all male shortlist for this year’s Sports Personality has prompted the BBC to consider changing its procedures next year, when sports journalists are invited to nominate their candidates. I hope this is not going to mean some sort of quota of women or other form of positive discrimination, when the solution is obvious and should have been implemented long ago.
We have mixed doubles in tennis and badminton, when men and women compete together, but we don’t have mixed football, rugby or cricket teams and no male versus female races in swimming or athletics. So, who ever decided that men and women should compete with each other for the sports personality award ? Rightly, the furore has encouraged sportswomen to point out that their sports receive less coverage in the media, except during the Olympics, when the women’s events invariably provide just as much interest and excitement as the men’s. And anyone who’s recently watched women playing soccer will know that the same applies there.
By having separate awards for the sportsman and sportswoman of the year the BBC would immediately require sports journalists to look more widely for their nominations. With two shortlists of ten presented to the public, sportswomen would be assured of equal treatment, while viewers and voters would be learning about sports personalities of both sexes that they might never have otherwise encountered. In view of those advantages it seems remarkable that the present system has gone on as long as it has. Was this a case of the BBC pandering to the idea that there is somehow no significant difference between men and women, in pursuit of some false notion of equality ?