THE 2012 renewal of that annual target for ridicule, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, promises to be more a war of attrition than the usual laugh-in.
Given the range – not only of fields of endeavour and achievements, but the geographical spread – of heroic candidates, the frenzied voting of the various blocks of supporters throughout the kingdom is likely to cause the collapse of lines of communication. In a year that has produced credible contenders for the individual prize in unprecedented numbers (Bradley Wiggins, once a shoo-in, now has plenty of company), it seems astounding that the battle for team of the year could be just as hotly contested.
The Olympics’ Team GB would have seemed unopposable until it was realised that it could itself be broken into separate units. Who could deny the entitlement of, say, cyclists, athletes and rowers to consider themselves different, clearly identifiable entities, all with legitimate claims to the title?
Then came the barely believable antics of the Ryder Cup boys. Reinforcing the credentials of the glorious 12, of course, is the detail that their supreme achievement at Medinah was completed on foreign soil; the Olympians at least were on home ground. It is a measure of the eccentricities of the past six months that Chelsea, having won the Champions League – normally enough to make the accolade a formality – may not attract enough votes even to make the podium.
Perhaps, for one year only – since there is never likely to be another like it, a repeat may be discounted – the organisers could inaugurate special categories as a cover-all.