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Comment: BBC’s treatment of Ryder Cup win a disgrace

The European team poses with the Ryder Cup. Picture: Getty

The European team poses with the Ryder Cup. Picture: Getty

  • by MARTIN DEMPSTER
 

CALL me cynical if you want but should we really have been surprised that golf didn’t get the credit it deserved in the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year Awards?

Okay, we had Ian Poulter and Justin Rose up on the stage for a short interview while there was also a recorded clip with Rory McIlroy, one of the 12 nominees for the main award.

However, the Royal & Ancient game finished the night empty-handed and that, quite frankly, was a disgrace, even when you take into account the tremendous level of success enjoyed by Great Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians.

It was a sign of the competition he was up against that McIlroy, despite elevating himself to world No 1, recording a second runaway success in a major and topping the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic, never had a look in for that individual accolade.

His time has merely been delayed, though, as he is only starting to get going in terms of what he can achieve in the game and, what’s more, it is only every four years that he is likely to face such strong competition.

As for the team award, however, it was a massive slap in the face to Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning side when they lost out to those Olympians and Paralympians, despite all the medals and wonderful memories they delivered in London.

According to what I could dig out, the team award is for “an individual sport or sporting discipline that has achieved the most notable performance in the calendar year to date. The team should have significant UK interest or involvement”.

Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t the Olympics and Paralympics made up of numerous sports and sporting disciplines? And, if you’ve got hundreds of team members competing for medals, there’s something seriously wrong if you don’t come out with enough success to overshadow other sports every four years.

It’s not that success in the Ryder Cup has been overlooked in the past at the BBC event. According to Wikipedia, Great Britain & Ireland’s golfers picked up the team award in 1969, sharing it on that occasion with the women’s 4x400 relay squad after holding the once dominant Americans to a 16-16 draw at Royal Birkdale.

As a European team, the prize has been landed in 1985, 1987, 1995, 2002 and 2010, all for victories in the biennial contest yet, with due respect to the captains and players involved in those, they weren’t as memorable as the “Miracle at Medinah”.

Yes, Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France then Olympic gold was fairytale stuff, as were those achievements by the likes of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Sir Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Andy Murray and Katherine Grainger, to name but a few, in London during the summer.

But, for sheer drama and what it takes to pull something incredible off as a team, the highlight of the year had to be that Sunday afternoon in late September on the outskirts of Chicago.

While it was once chosen by public vote and picked by Radio 5 Live listeners, this year’s team of the year decision was made by an “expert panel selected by the BBC”.

Discovering that set alarm bells off for me because, by the looks of things, the Beeb has just about given up on golf, hence only highlights from both the Scottish Open and PGA Championship will be shown on terrestrial TV as from next year.

Again, this may be due to the fact I’m becoming old and crabbit – occasionally – but you just had a feeling that, because the BBC pumped a fortune into covering the Olympics, it was always going to be the main focus on Sunday night.

There was “significant UK interest and involvement” as Europe matched the biggest last-day fightback in Ryder Cup history to retain the trophy, yet McIlroy, Poulter, Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and, of course, Paul Lawrie missed out on a place on the SPOTY roll of honour.

They will all be trying again in two years’ time at Gleneagles but, unless Sky come up with an awards event of their own in the future, golf can probably expect more cold shoulders like this one from the Beeb.

 

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