Sports Personality of the Year: Where Were The Women?

Lucy Singleton takes a look at why there were so few female faces at this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year

BBC Sports Personality Female Sport

The Sports Personality of the Year award recognises the strongest athletes throughout the British sporting year.

The 2011 award failed to recognise a single female athlete, prompting questions throughout the sporting world: have we not finally reached an era where women are considered equals? Is this not applicable in the sporting world?

In a year where sporting females have achieved a demonstrable amount of success it seems absurd that none of them were recognised for it.

In equal measure, the recognition of male athletes that have achieved little of note in 2011 adds further salt to the wound.

Andy Murray, still yet to win a major, received a nomination purely because he is the only stand out player in a popular British sport.

Yet the likes of Rebecca Adlington, who won the World Championships in 800m freestyle, and Keri Anne Payne, the World Champion in the 10km open water event, were ignored.

It cannot be argued that swimming is a largely unpopular sport and therefore Adlington and Payne were understandably overlooked. Thus, is it simply sexism or is there a further underlying reason?

Sporting credit tends to derive from national pride. Take male football: footballers will receive recognition in the Sports Personality of the Year Award despite the fact that it is a rarity to find a footballer with a sportsmanship personality because everyone loves male football.

However, I bet the majority of the nation was unaware that the female World Cup took place in 2011 and England got to the Quarter-Finals.

Due to the lack of majority interest in female football, Britain had nothing to lose and journalists had nothing to write about.

Many people accept that female athletes struggle to become celebrated in the sporting world. Harriet Harman recently demanded that the BBC should put women on the Sports Personality list.

However, the reasons for the lack of recognition generally stems from the female audience.

Whilst this is a generalised statement, female sport is something that females tend not to be as interested in, and male audiences are more interested in male sex sports.

Therefore, without the interest, female athletes will never become as equally accepted as male athletes, and therefore will not receive equal nominations for sports awards.

Without women actually going out and taking an interest in female sports, equal recognition is not going to happen. It has little to do with achievements or personality and everything to do with endorsements, which generates interest. Taking into account the richest athletes in the world, and therefore the most well-known, there are no women in the top 20.

Jessica Ennis earned just over a million pounds last year through endorsements; David Beckham earned 40 million and has a net worth of 150 million. Is it any surprise that every man, woman and child in the country know who David Beckham is, but only those that follow athletics would know about Ennis?

So, to conclude, the nominations (or lack of) for Sports Personality of the Year did arise from inequality and sexism but this was mainly at the hands of the female race.

There is no way that females can demand equality within sport until they start to take a stronger interest; anything else is just plain hypocrisy.

It is all very well for Harman to take a stand and demand nominations, but until she sits down and regularly watches an entire female football game, or sits through a swimming gala (something that is harder than it sounds) then she has no grounds to stand on.

Female sports rarely appear on mainstream television, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. The only year this is not applicable is the Olympics year, where males and females come together to watch both sexes compete for their country, with females proving more successful in 2008 than males.

But this brings about the question: do we really live in a world where we have to wait once every four years to realise that British female athletes are just as successful, if not even more, as male athletes?

But what do you think? Comment below to let us know.