Which women would make your SPotY shortlist?

The announcement of the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the year is always met with criticism but this year it seems to have been stronger than ever as there is not a single woman in the shortlisted group of 10.

The omission has prompted the likes of four-time Ironman triathlon world champion Chrissie Wellington, Olympic and world swimming champ Rebecca Adlington and Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson to speak out.

BBC presenter Gary Lineker, who announced the list on The One Show, said: “It perhaps has not been as strong a year for women.”

Some sportsmen who have had a less-than-stellar year are in there – for instance England cricket captain Andrew Strauss and tennis player Andy Murray – and there are three golfers among the 10.

World champions like Wellington, fellow triathlete Helen Jenkins, Adlington and her friend Keri-anne Payne, rowers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins are just a few of those who arguably have better claim to a place on the list.

The BBC has defended itself by pointing out the nominations come from a group of newspaper and magazine editors as part of a system adopted in 2006 to make sure that the process is completely unbiased and transparent. However, the corporation still selects the editors in question. Men’s magazines Zoo and Nuts have a say and neither named a woman in their list.

One argument that has done the rounds has it that women’s sport is not as high profile as men’s, therefore women are less likely to figure on the shortlist. One way of giving women’s sport a higher profile would be to make sure they feature in events like this. The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award has helped in that regard butstill cannot compete with SPotY for mainstream exposure.

I’ve asked several leading current and former sportswomen to nominate their top five of 2011 and I’d welcome yours too – either on this blog or on Twitter to @martingough22. It would be great to show clearly how strong women’s sport is.

UPDATE: Some of the responses so far:

Current and former elite sportswomen:

Other views:

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8 Responses to Which women would make your SPotY shortlist?

  1. Aidan says:

    The argument that perhaps women didn’t have as strong a weight isn’t wholly true when we’ve had world champions in the form of Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne, who’ve certainly achieved more in their field than Luke Donald and Andy Murray over the past year.

    The BBC doesn’t do itself any favours in having Zoo and Nuts on the panel (especially when neither chose any females), and in allowing regional bias by having Manchester Evening and such cast their votes but not catering for all regions just muddies things further.

    The BBC didn’t choose the top ten and you can’t really attribute blame to them for that. It’s very hard to justify such an odd selection of publications to vote however, they set themselves up for a huge fall.

  2. Charlotte Chamberlin says:

    I think Keri-Ann Payne, Chrissie Wellington, Rebecca Adlington, Sarah Stevenson, Charlotte Edwards, Hannah England and Jessica Ennis would all be deserving of votes. I don’t think the blame is all at the door of the BBC as other sources created the lists but if the BBC and Sky do not publicise women’s sport it shall continue to be a vicious circle.

  3. WalshyMK says:

    The policy to include the newspaper local to the venue is entirely arbitrary. I can’t decide which is more foolish, this rule or inviting those well-known paragons of women’s rights, Nuts and Zoo.

  4. Annie Vernon says:

    This is not down to the BBC, in fact this isn’t even really a poor reflection on women. This is a depressing reflection on the quality of sports journalism in this country. If I was a sports editor or journalist I would consider myself to have done a pretty poor job if the only sportspeople in the public eye, year after year, are the same old footballers, cricketers, golfers and rugby players. It’s up to them to present all sport in fascinating ways to the public instead of trotting out the same old cliches time and time again. Get more women into sports journalism and can we please liven it up!

    Present company excluded…

  5. Dave says:

    Don’t you like rowers? I’m interested in sport and NOT a sportswoman or a rower but I am a statistician and having looked at the replies above there are very obviously only five names consistently mentioned: Adlington; Wellington; Grainger; Stevenson; Payne. How come you then post a tweet saying the top four names are Adlington; Stevenson; Payne and Wellington. Whatever did poor Grainger do for you to so obviously ignore her claim to also be mentioned in the list.
    Dave R

    • martingough22 says:

      Hi Dave

      It was a follow Friday. KG’s not on Twitter. Should be pretty obvious from the rest of my tweets that I like rowers.

      • Dave says:

        Thanks, Martin. I’m reassured. Just seemed on the surface a tad unfair on the rower that only four were so clearly mentioned. Maybe she could have been mentioned despite not being on Twitter? God help us all if folk are excluded from things if they’re not on Twitter.

        But thanks for taking the time to give me the reason. I appreciate that.

        Dave Ross

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