To look at the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year you’d be forgiven thinking that women in this country don’t do sport. They certainly can’t be attaining any form of excellence or winning medals.
This year all of the shortlist are men. And whilst as an avid cycling fan I’m thrilled that Mark Cavendish is on the list, I am a little bewildered that Andy Murray (ranked 4th in the world at his sport) is included but some female world champions are visible only for their absence.
Where is triathlon world champion Chrissie Wellington, world champion oarswoman Kath Grainger or either of the world champion swimmers Keri-Anne Payne and Rebecca Adlington?
And more importantly why are they not there when the boxer Amir Khan is included and he hasn’t had a particularly brilliant sporting year?
But it appears that it isn’t just the BBC who are at fault here. They have compiled the shortlist based on nominations from the sport editors of a variety of newspapers and magazines. Except go and have a look at some of the magazines that get to have a say (here’s how they voted). Do we really think that Nuts magazine and Zoo magazine are appropriate quality publications to be involved in these nominations. Unsurprisingly neither of those magazines, which seem to be more obsessed with women’s bra size than their actual achievements, could bring themselves to nominate a single woman.
But surely if we are allowing the lads’ mags a chance to put forward their shortlist then we should have some equivalent lists submitted by magazines primarily aimed at women. So why aren’t they included?
The fact that there are no women on the shortlist is bad enough, the implicit assumption that women shouldn’t even have a voice when it comes to sports is even worse. Have the BBC not noticed the ranks of sportswomen winning at a world level, have the BBC failed to notice the articulate and intelligent women working in the media and focused on sport, are the BBC effectively sending out a message that women just don’t do games?
Enough with this. Enough with the assumption that sports are for boys and women are just interested in fluffy kittens. Enough with this low level sexism that appears to be prevalent at every level of our society. Enough with these messages that you are sending to my daughters that even if they win at world level they still aren’t as good as the boys.
And no, this isn’t a backlash based on it being that time of the month, or because we want positive discrimination or because it’s the fury of women scorned. This is a backlash based on you asking the wrong people the wrong question and forgetting that half the population is female and that we can be articulate and opinionated and that we do care.
Time for a rethink BBC? Time for a sportsman of the year AND a sportswoman of the year?