FROM sponsored swimmers to grieving golfers, being crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year has less and less to do with being good at sport, argues Rob Lyons on Spiked as he takes a hard-hearted swipe at Norn Iron’s Ryder Cup hero Darren Clarke. He adds: “Clarke is a pretty decent golfer. He’s never won a ‘major’ nor topped the European Order of Merit, but he was one of the best players in the Europe team that retained the Ryder Cup this year. But as an individual, in what is essentially an individual game, he’s never quite set the world on fire. However, his performance in this year’s Ryder Cup won plaudits because it came just weeks after the death of his wife from cancer.”Lyons continues:
That Clarke showed some considerable fortitude in getting himself together to play in a high-pressure golf tournament is certainly worthy of praise. But if the Sports Personality of the Year means anything at all, it should surely be judged on sporting achievement alone. On that basis, Clarke’s achievements this year are relatively moderate in comparison to winning an athletics gold medal at the Olympics or being crowned world heavyweight champion like some past winners.
Admittedly, his achievement is somewhat greater than Paul Gascoigne’s, who won in 1990 for playing football quite well and blubbing like a girl during the World Cup. But that was really recognition for the fact that England nearly won the World Cup that year which is as big as sporting success gets. Europe always win the Ryder Cup these days.
So there you have it. I’ll probably watch Sports Review this year, like I do most years. In between the cheesy chats with sports stars past and present, they do actually show all the best bits from the sporting year. A few people think the whole thing is well past its sell-by date and they might have a point. If the top gong is awarded on the basis of bereavement or charitable works, it might be beyond saving.